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Sustaining and accelerating Canterbury tech sector growth

In the Canterbury region, 2016 has seen another successful year of growth in the highly-diverse and super-vibrant tech sector and is expected to continue next year.  As New Zealand’s second largest innovation hub, the region is already generating $2.5 billion of tech revenue, an impressive $700 million of which comes from exporting.  The region also employs nearly 15,000 tech workers.

This is awesome, but how can Canterbury best sustain and even accelerate its growth in 2017 and what does it mean for the rest of New Zealand?

Last week, NZTech Chair Mitchell Pham and Director of Member Relations Andrea Hancox attended Canterbury Tech’s AGM and end of year function.  In Christchurch, they connected with local tech businesses who came to celebrate another year of great achievements.

From our conversations with local business leaders, it was evident that Canterbury has an extremely well-connected tech community, where everyone seems to know everyone else.  This is seen as a contributing success factor behind the strength and the growth of tech businesses in the region.

However, members of the board of Canterbury Tech also indicated that as the region’s tech sector continues to grow not just in size but also in breadth and very importantly international aspirations, there is a real opportunity to not only sustain but also accelerate growth from increasing Canterbury’s connection with the rest of the country.

The benefits of greater and stronger connections can range from general awareness of who’s doing what nationwide, to accessing opportunities for complementary products and services, collaboration in technology development or sales and marketing, sharing of business networks and international channels, building of new capabilities, resourcing for scalability and speed-to-market.

Earlier this year, Canterbury Tech joined the NZTech Alliance to give its members access to the wider national technology business network as well as opportunities to better showcase the Canterbury tech sector nationally and internationally.  Canterbury is now able to include its needs and voice in NZTech’s industry advocacy work with central government, build international connections and gain insights and participation in NZTech projects and activities nationwide.

The NZTech connection also helps make Canterbury’s local network more accessible to the wider national tech business community.  As a result, companies including my own, are now actively developing new working relationships with Christchurch tech businesses.  Likewise, NZTech members who are from or based in Canterbury, or businesses who are members of both communities are in the best position to grow and expand their connections while encouraging or even assisting others to do the same.  Next year will certainly continue to be exciting for Canterbury, with many new connections and opportunities.

Mitchell Pham
NZTech Chair

L-R: Canterbury Tech board members David Carter and Geoff Brash, NZTech Chair Mitchell Pham and Director of Members Relations Andrea Hancox, Canterbury Tech board member Helen Shorthouse.

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