Techweek19 Highlights

Phew, Techweek19 was massive! We saw 562 events in 38 locations across New Zealand, engaging thousands of Kiwis on a range of topics from MedTech, to how technology is being used in conservation efforts, to mental health awareness within the industry.

What did this nationwide festival of innovation look like? Here are a few highlights below — and check out our Highlights Report for some metrics on the reach and engagement across the nation (and internationally)!

Download the Highlights Report here 

The Minister for Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods opened our official launch of Techweek19 in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter with a line that really set the tone for the whole week — "innovation flourishes when linked to purpose". Both Woods and Auckland mayor Phil Goff acknowledged that the tech industry, as our country's fastest growing sector, is crucial to our future. 

The launch event focused on two inspiring and fascinating topics, Creative Tech and Clean Tech, with keynotes from Aliesha Staples, founder of StaplesVR, who inspired the crowd to connect with their communities and look locally first, and Sean Simpson of LanzaTech, whose call to action on the climate was sobering: "Why do we need Clean Tech? Because dirty tech isn't working out so well." 

Clean Tech panel (from left): Jake Millar (moderator), Annabell Chartres (PwC),

Clean Tech panel (from left): Jake Millar (moderator), Annabell Chartres (PwC), Bill Currie (Powerhouse Wind), Imche Fourie (Level Two), Kosala Gunawardane (AUT), Will Barker (Mint Innovation), Sean Simpson (LanzaTech)

Not long after sunset, Auckland was treated to a show. The Vector Lights on the Harbour Bridge in Auckland were lit up with the bright ideas of students from Clendon Park and Manurewa High Schools, which were translated into a stunning show of light and sound by design agency Method.

At the same time, a sizeable crowd gathered at the Great Lake Centre for an evening of inspiration at the Taupo Tech Talk, featuring Sean Alexander from Tectrax, Hadleigh Ford, founder of Swiped On, and John Curtis, the founder of Kloud Collective. Read more about our jam-packed first day here.

Techweek TV, sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, also ran from Monday to Friday — a live stream series, featuring our talented hosts Jake Millar of Unfiltered and Sian Simpson of Kiwi Landing Pad. With 42 hours in over 60 different sessions, our incredible panels of kiwi innovators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders covered topics including sports technology, venture capital, and the importance of culture in innovation. You can watch them all over on the Techweek TV page.

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Vic Crone (Callaghan Chief Executive, Oren Gershtein (IdealityRoads CEO), and Robbie Paul (Icehouse Ventures CEO) talking to Techweek TV host Jake Millar on how businesses can successfully raise capital to go global and scale faster.

The Techweek19 School Series, supported by the Ministry of Education, also kicked off on Monday, with 65 schools and over 3,000 students around New Zealand taking part — either in person or via livestream — across the week!

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Turning Students into Tech Superheroes workshop in Wellington, led by Dr. Jenine Beekhuyzen (complete with a cape)  camera: Australian High Commission in New Zealand

On Tuesday, we were inspired by our future generations at the She Can Code event in Timaru, with over 80 girls, aged 7 through to 14, learning how to code in fun and practical ways. The 'Electric Garden' project (above) uses sensors to measure the moisture levels, light and temperature of plants. The team above then took the data to figure out the missing elements, and applied what was needed to get the best growth! Read more about day 2.

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At another Women in Tech event — this one in Hamilton — Louise Hutt, New Zealand's youngest electricity CEO (who is also running for mayor!) shared her stories of learning to embrace the discomfort of challenging stereotypes. "Trying to make people feel comfortable with our inclusion is what we're taught to do". Instead, she suggests, we can use our energy on staying curious — a good lesson for everyone! More lessons from day 3 here.

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 On Thursday morning, bus loads of children piled into classrooms at the Sir Edmund Collegiate in Otara for the STEAM innovation event,  a showcase of tech and student projects utilising tech which was open to other schools in the area. The students had been challenged to think about communicating culture through technology — projects included a weaving pattern tutorial, VR experiences on beaches in Niue, and a Snakes and Ladders-style game that spat out facts about Tonga on successful moves. Read more about day 4

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Techweek TV wrapped for the week with a final session featuring Peter Beck of Rocket Lab and Dr Peter Crabtree, from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). As well as discussing the work Rocket Lab does, Beck noted that most people don't realise how reliant they are on space infrastructure, for everything from the GPS we use to get around, to powering apps like Uber and Tinder — even streaming this Techweek TV session itself!

Both were asked what they wanted all New Zealanders to know, to which Peter Beck replied, "We're a country of fantastic innovators and entrepreneurs and we need to support them, we need to remove this culture of thinking small and...push it a bit harder and a bit further". Who else was pushing it on day 5? Check our highlights to find out.

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 Jake Millar (Techweek TV host), Peter Beck (Rocket Lab), Dr Peter Crabtree (MBIE), Siân Simpson (Techweek TV host).

 Techweek carried on into the weekend, with a massive 6 hackathons happening around the country! The Techfugees Hackathon in Stokes Valley, Wellington, saw teams working to develop solutions that will improve the resettlement experience for our refugee background communities in NZ. 

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Techfugees hackathon participants camera: Mike Riversdale

The weekend also included the Indie Game Showcase, and family friendly events all over the country for children to learn how to code or explore the potential of robotics! Read about day 6 and our final day of Techweek here.

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Robot Smackdown

It was so inspiring to see so many of you get involved with New Zealand's annual festival of innovation - thank you for adding your voice to the conversation that's all about building a better world. Techweek returns in 2020 from 18-24 May. To keep in touch with the latest in our world, make sure you sign up to the monthly newsletter here.

By Kirsten Marsh

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