Kiwi IT firms use expat facilitators

Kiwi high-tech exporters are taking advantage of expatriate groups recently set up to ease their passage into offshore markets.

Kiwi high-tech exporters are taking advantage of expatriate groups recently set up to ease their passage into offshore markets.

KEA, the Kiwi Expats Association, has already helped several New Zealanders make contacts in the US, and is holding a meeting to launch its London operations in late May.

Meanwhile, the chairman of ANZA Technology Network will this week be addressing a crowd of interested technology business people on what the organisation has been up to and how they can take advantage of its services.

The establishment of expat networks was one of the key initiatives of the government’s Knowledge Wave conference last year. Asian countries in particular have followed this path to considerable business success.

KEA’s Wellington-based organiser, Mark Vivian, says the organisation is already achieving its aim of helping New Zealanders or Kiwi firms expand offshore, providing them with “easy introductions to ‘warm’ contacts” – that is, those already open to offering simple assistance. KEA has put a local rose exporter in touch with a US-based law firm which specialises in the protection of intellectual property, a principal of which is a New Zealander who has been resident in the US for 20 years. It also hooked up six New Zealand Harvard students who previously had no knowledge of each other, says Vivian.

KEA finds the big question many ask is how to get started, and the “basic affinity” of being a fellow New Zealander is often enough to start the exporting ball rolling. The 700,000-plus expats are often happy to take a call, says Vivian, at least to offer a bit of initial guidance.

Vivian is aware of the potential of expat networks, having spent the last three years in San Francisco and four years before in the UK and being frustrated that the excellent social networks New Zealanders set up were not being parlayed into business contacts.

He says while KEA has to date mostly been based on word of mouth contacts, it wants people to register with the organisation before they leave the country. A meeting of expats will be held in London on May 22, probably at New Zealand House.

Guy Manson, chairman of the ANZA Technology Network, known as ANZA Tech.Net, says he will update attendees at an Auckland meeting on the organisation’s progress and talk about a showcase of up to 100 Australasian companies in San Francisco in early June. Manson is speaking at 6pm on Tuesday, April 16 at the Aotea Centre.

The non-profit organisation says it was founded with the objective of providing a business network of companies and executives involved in the Australian, New Zealand and US technology sectors. Founding sponsors of the network include Investment New Zealand, Austrade, Intel, Silicon Valley Bank and Macquarie Bank.

Vivian says the two organisations complement each other, with KEA focusing solely on New Zealanders involved in all types of overseas business and ANZA Tech being centred on Silicon Valley and technology. He says, however, that they cross-promote and “cross-pollinate”, particularly in the San Francisco Bay area. Manson agrees, saying ANZA Tech just preceded the Knowledge Wave by a couple of months and is modelled on similar regional networks set up by Asian and Israeli tech companies.

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More about Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)IntelKiwi Expats AssociationMacquarie BankTechnology

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