In the final installment of the NZICT Group’s Industry Voices segment, IBM’s
Daryl French, chair of the Group’s innovation subcommittee , explains how the above headline could one day become truth.
Some of you may think that this is unrealistic, shrug your shoulders and put it into the too-hard basket. NZICT, however, is aiming to support and nurture technology innovators in an attempt to improve the nation’s productivity and wealth. We are also trying to increase our global ICT focus and raise our export status.
Globally, our brand is one of sheep and cows with a backdrop of greenery and blue skies. However, our Prime Minister John Key should be discussing ICT, hi-tech and innovation as well as bungee jumping and whale watching when he rubs shoulders with high-profile people. But, if we want our Prime Minister to discuss New Zealand’s ICT sector, then we need to give him reasons to do so.
Currently, our ICT innovation and entrepreneurial state is one of ‘wild fields’ with the odd business succeeding on a domestic and, sometimes, global scale.
If we were a global nursery of ICT, with both a domestic and international focus, John Key might just change his portfolio to that of ICT and propagate the flourishing Silicon Valley of the south.
Tourism accounts for around 19% of our export earnings and supports one out of 10 jobs. ICT as an industry, however, should be aiming for these figures. While the digital economy should ensure that New Zealand reaps benefits on the international stage, ICT also has the potential to raise productivity across all domestic sectors.
NZICT’s innovation subcommittee has some short-to-medium and long-term goals to ensure that New Zealand’s hi-tech innovators and entrepreneurs succeed not only at home, but also overseas.
To build up our innovators within the ICT sector, we need to attract more capital into the country. In the short-to-medium term, we aim to provide services to help innovators and entrepreneurs identify and contact possible sources of funding, and also provide an advisory panel to find help and/or access knowledge that is needed to take their business forward. We also aim to benchmark ourselves against other industries to ensure that we have a solid base to work from and action points in the pipeline.
Additionally, we are looking to raise the profile of ICT in the country and make it a New Zealand brand that we can market internationally.
To reach some of these goals we also need your help.
We need to promote our ‘Flying Kiwis’ including Sir Gil Simpson, Selwyn Pellet and Rod Drury, who have built successful international businesses, and innovators like Sam Morgan, Richard Taylor and John Holdsworth; to attract people into the industry and to attract capital investment from domestic and overseas sources.
We also need to demystify some of the connotations around the ICT and hi-tech sectors.We need your support as existing ICT professionals to act as mentors, and we need you to give innovators and entrepreneurs support.
We will also ensure that we take advantage of opportunities to grow particular high-tech industries: game development, artificial intelligence, geo-spatial, 3D, environmental monitoring, agricultural applications, health applications and broadband-enabled education are all areas where New Zealand leads the world or has the potential to. You will have your own areas to add to the list.
We will ensure this is supported by government policy in areas like education and skills, research science and technology investment, taxation, trade promotion, procurement and infrastructure.
If we support innovation and collaborate on this, then it is very much an obtainable goal.