Size and location doesn't matter in the tech industry any more, and New Zealand is now irrelevant as a country as our innovation and expertise now matches global levels, according to NZTech chair Bennett Medary.
“The world doesn’t give a hoot about our size or location on the map. They recognise our innovation and quality, our ease of doing business, our trustworthiness, and frankly still, the beauty of our country and its people. We’ll know we’ve made it when we’re recognised for being the world’s most tech savvy country, as well as being the most beautiful to visit and best source of food, wine, human talent, natural pharmaceuticals and many other things that we can sustain as best in the world," Medary says.
The statistics show that New Zealand's tech sector contributes $16.2 billion to GDP thanks to the 29,000 tech firms made up of almost 100,000 employees. Its $6.3 billion in exports make the sector the country's third biggest market.
“Small and clean is beautiful and we are no longer isolated from markets in the way we once were. Actually our relative insignificance and neutrality in geopolitical terms makes us an attractive host nation. Isolation now is more about connectivity and bandwidth as opposed to freight distances. If we are cohesive as well as small, we can then also be both agile and decisive. That’s a huge competitive advantage and the Government’s recent actions in support of our budding commercial space industry with Rocket Lab is a great example,” Medary continues.
Medary is stepping down as chair of NZTech after six years and also wants to see technology, tourism and the dairy industry growing alongside each other.
“Some industries, like dairy, are in a world market down cycle after some liquid gold glory years. Tourism is booming. Technology will most likely continue to outstrip other sector growth rates, which is in part double counting, as the most important aspect of growth in this sector is through its digital enablement of the rest of the economy, including government.
Medary believes that with goals such as striving to become the hi-tech capital of the world in five years may be unattainable, New Zealand can make best use of emerging technologies as a digital nation to better economic and social opportunities.
"The Government needs to be bold and proud about our strategic direction as a digital nation. We need to add that to our national culture and psyche. That requires leadership. Industry has to continue to mature in collaborating at a strategic level. Government will support industry led initiatives and partner on aspects of execution and funding," Medary suggests.
Our Digital Nation NZ is a great unifying platform and there is a large work program planned to take that further. Our chief executive Graeme Muller is doing a great job and is well supported by our Board, active membership and partners. We’re committed to our vision of NZ being super smart users of technology and an extraordinarily prosperous and well nation,” Medary concludes.