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Technology Queenstown unveils plan to transform district into tech hub
Mon, 5th Feb 2024

Technology Queenstown (TQ), a newly formed technology development agency, launched an ambitious plan to transform the technology industry in Queenstown Lakes District into a world-class tech ecosystem.

An economic analysis conducted by a global professional services firm, TQ revealed the district's potential to nurture a thriving tech sector that could generate approximately $1 billion in annual GDP, or 10-20% of the local economy, by 2043.

TQ, established by experienced tech sector Chair and advisor Roger Sharp, is a not-for-profit organisation bringing together key stakeholders, including Queenstown Lakes District Council, the University of Otago, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and Queenstown Resort College. The shared vision of these organisations is to diversify the local economy with a strategic plan for developing its technology industry.

The plan foresees over the next 20 years the potential for Queenstown Lakes to employ around 3,000 highly skilled tech workers, and thereby boost the district's tech ecosystem from $100 million to between $650 million and $1.3 billion. This growth aims to stimulate the diversification and growth of the district’s economy.

Speaking about the initiative, TQ founder Roger Sharp said: "The pandemic shone a light on the region’s heavy reliance on the tourism and hospitality sectors and the pressing need to build other industries alongside tourism. Technology is a high-value, low-impact industry that fits comfortably alongside Destination Queenstown’s ambitious strategy to achieve a carbon-zero tourism environment over the next few years.”

Glyn Lewers, Mayor of Queenstown Lakes District Council, stated: "Opportunities for all is one of the long-term goals our community is working towards, and a vibrant tech industry is key to achieving this. The release of this plan today and the commitment of private sector leaders to achieving it is an exciting step towards realising this vision.”

Education in the technology sector has already taken a leap with the Queenstown Resort College (QRC). A year ago, the college launched a machine learning school as part of its effort to diversify the region's economy. This initiative was highly successful. Building on this success, the QRC CEO, Charlie Phillips, commented, "Our college offers programmes that align closely with Technology Queenstown’s vision, building a pipeline of talent who are work-ready for the fast-moving tech sector."

At the heart of this plan is the role of research. Professor Richard Blaikie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise at the University of Otago, endorsed this strategy, recognising the nexus between the University's research and strategy and the proposed development in Queenstown Lakes, contributing towards the growth of jobs in the district.

The formation of Technology Queenstown signifies a collaborative effort to drive economic growth and resilience, leveraging the potential of technology sector, and shaping Queenstown Lakes into a globally competitive, technologically-advanced economy.