[ Skip to main content ]

Techweek2020 highlights

Techweek News

By techweek Techweek

27 July 2020

NZTE Digitally Speaking David Downs David Kirk 900

With over 300 events and 60 episodes of Techweek TV, Techweek2020 offered hundreds of hours of tech content to be enjoyed as part of our digital festival of tech and innovation. 

Running Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Techweek TV saw industry experts interviewed about everything from AI to agritech, IoT to innovation, exporting to education. Rewatch all of the Techweek TV action at Play Stuff

Thousands of people across the country attended Techweek2020 events, with the digital nature of the events removing geographical boundaries and opening up the whole programme to everyone, no matter where they lived. Many of the events were recorded - see what you can watch in our Replay playlist.    

Here are some of the daily highlights from Techweek2020:

✨Monday 27 July

Connecting our future

Techweek2020 opened with a challenge.

“I want to see our businesses, our tertiary education establishments, schools and homes accelerate digital adoption so that we can lead the world.” 

Those words were spoken by the Minister of Economic Development, Phil Twyford, in his opening address of Techweek2020.

“It’s important that we stay active and responsive in how technology shapes our world,” said Twyford.

“You have probably heard the term ‘network effect.’ For me, this is what Techweek represents - unique information sharing that can help trigger entirely new ideas.”

Following  Twyford's address and a welcome by NZTech CEO Graeme Muller, this year’s Techweek theme connecting our future was explored with tech leaders and teenagers talking about what the future could look like.

Techweek TV opening event connecting our future 1 edited 600

IBM - Building New Zealand’s digital future
IBM Mike Smith Digital Techweek TV 1030am Monday 1 600

IBM New Zealand Managing Director Mike Smith spoke with Ryan Ashton on the opportunities that exist to help New Zealand emerge stronger.

Mike said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced New Zealanders into new habits - into new ways of working and way of thinking.

75% of people using digital for the first time said they would like to consider using digital when things return to normal. 

He spoke of a client of IBM - a wine seller - who they helped digitalise 22 years worth of tasting notes so that they could create a digital experience for their customers which would be similar to what they experience in store. Watch the Techweek TV episode here

Refactoring Remote working 

The Refactoring Remote Working series began today with Leadership Monday.  BeConfident’s Stella Green, Datacom’s Midu Chandra and Wisdom at Work’s Mel Rowsell debated if self-leadership trumps being led by others.  Discussion included: 

  • The process of self-mastery is constantly evolving and is an essential quality for hybrid teams.  

  • To enable a high level of autonomy, digital platforms and tools are essential. 

  • To remain focused, distributed and hybrid teams need to consciously consider their organisation’s values and vision. 

  • Collaboration is crucial for providing a competition advantage. 

  • The biggest silver bullet for leadership success is listening to others (and yourself). Remember, you can’t learn anything new when you are talking! 

  • Trust is the inherent factor in successful remote working, based on the outcomes, versus continual social connection.

AI to amplify community equity

In this webinar Beca shared insights into the way they have used artificial intelligence to create Tala -  a conversational agent that was trained to speak Samoan to consult on community issues.

The session focused on the importance of community equity - understanding what people need and that people have different needs - and how AI makes it easier to enable this.

Beca Monday Event Using digital to connect to communities 3 600

How on earth can space improve our lives? 

With space set to be a one trillion dollar industry by 2030, Peter Beck (Rocket Lab), Delwyn Moller (technical project lead on NZ's involvement in NASA's CYGNSS mission) and Steven Newma  (EROAD) discussed how New Zealand can make sure we can get a slice of that pie, and how else space developments can improve our lives. 

✨Tuesday 28 July

Adventures in Tech

Award winning product designer Hayes Raffle shared the tech trends reshaping our lives.  On a recent 10 month adventure with his family, he travelled the world to discover and research what is important to others.  He observed these global trends:

  • Everyone learns similar basics and tech is universal. 
  • People want to stay connected with others. 
  • Most people he met had Facebook, WhatsApp and/or Instagram installed on their phones. 
  • Open tech doesn’t always mean free speech. 
  • Internet prices vary dramatically and is still a novelty in the developing world. 
  • Most villagers in developing countries, can’t afford phone data and mobile infrastructure has been slow to change.  

Hayes also detailed technologies for creative expression including his work with Topobo.com, Google Glass and AR/VR Daydream.  Learn more

Pivots - Businesses that have Pivoted to Survive and Thrive

This Groundswell event explored the way businesses have had to make changes to ensure their survival. 

Ben Kepes (Principal of Diversity Limited) spoke about decision making and leadership amid the COVID crisis. 

He made the point that during COVID there was no chance for panic or paralysis because decisions had to be made - even though there wasn’t the data that they normally relied on to help make a decision.

In COVID, because nothing was known, their decisions were made on what was more likely to ensure their viability and survivability.

Michelle Dickinson, aka Nanogirl, told the story of losing her 2020 income stream for the whole year three days before lockdown. 

Instead of going on a world tour with their education programme, they pivoted by building a digital subscription program for kids that could be used during lockdown, with materials available at home. In a way, they achieved a similar international outcome as they now have subscribers from over 107 countries. 

Both Ben and Michelle talked about having a ‘service leadership’ style that helped lead their business through COVID.

Māori and the future of AI by Callaghan Innovation

A key theme of the discussion on what the Māori perspective can bring to Artificial Intelligence focused on data sovereignty.  

It is important to consider the role that data plays in AI and to respect Māori views around data ownership - that people are not the owners of the data, but rather they are kaitiaki or guardians of the data. They need to protect it and be careful as to who has access to it. It is especially important that this way of thinking is integrated into commercial imperatives. Watch this Techweek TV episode here

The Anywhere Workplace – an employer’s perspective 

Chorus The Anywhere Workplace Employers Perspective event

If COVID-19 has proven anything, it is that working from home and watching Netflix all day, is a myth! 

The Anywhere Workplace isn’t just about working from home.  It’s working from home sometimes, a co-working space, or other shared spaces like a library or café.   

Chorus Network Strategy Manager, Kurt Rodgers joined Nina Fountain, Workplace Strategist, Simon Gillespie, CEO, NTT Ltd, Gergely Gaspardy, Associate Director, CBRE Research and Anthony Watson, Head of Enterprise and Domains at ANZ to discuss remote working best practices.  The Anywhere Workplace has changed traditional offices.  For employers there are three key areas to consider; 

  1. Culture and social connection. 

  2. Collaboration – creating a framework for using remote tools. 

  3. Communication. Communication.  Communication.

    Tips for managing a remote team: 

  • Trust is critical.  This is achieved with intentions, competence and reliability. 

  • Prioritise health and wellbeing, including ergonomic workstations.  

  • Get the tech right by prioritising connectivity, especially for video chat and meetings.  

  • Regularly share key updates and developments. Move beyond email for everyday exchanges to get work done.  For example, video for teamwork and chat platforms for simple exchanges. 

  • Stay accountable by tracking projects on digital tools and shared calendars.  Be transparent and know each other’s availability.  

  • Develop your team culture by creating rituals, zoom background competitions, dress up days, structured catch-ups and even Friday night drinks. 

  • Offices of the future will be used for collaboration, connecting and regularly meeting. 

Creating responsible citizens for AI

TW TV IBM Steve ODonnell AI Responsible Citizens 1 600

IBM’s Steve O’Donnell, Beca’s Matt Ensor and Hudson Gavin Martin’s Anchali Anandanayagam discussed the different principles that AI should adhere to in order to ensure it is supporting citizens. 

Steve highlighted that one of the main concerns around society at the moment is bias - and this is something that AI is not immune to. It is possible for unconscious bias to come through in AI when it is developed and trained. 

Ways to tackle this is to ensure that there is diversity within the organisation, be aware of potential unconscious bias, and have standards and policies in place to be able to combat that. Watch this Techweek TV session here

✨Wednesday 29 July

Achieving market-entry success in South Korea

Techweek2020 continues to gather global momentum this year with a growing number of international events connecting potential investors and markets with New Zealand tech companies. 

A number of large Korean companies and investors joined the first of a series of Korean NZ Chamber events from Seoul, directly into Techweek to let us know that they are looking to New Zealand for innovation, especially in areas such as green tech, creative tech and tech for good.

Be a better zoom host 

Did you know that 90 percent of people admit to daydreaming in meetings and 73 percent admit to doing other work?  In the Be a Better Zoom Host event, Caelan Huntress warned of four key problems; learning new tech, disconnected people, distracted participants and fear of being ignored.  These problems can be overcome with Caelan’s virtual meeting best practices; 

  • Send a simple agenda with every meeting invitation. 

  • Prepare and test your tech in advance. 

  • Open with an ‘unofficial start’ ten minutes before time, for example, with a graffiti whiteboard. 

  • Extend formalities by a few minutes to allow latecomers to join. 

  • Ensure your events are accessible to those with disabilities. 

  • Start with a fun icebreaker. 

  • Look at your camera (not your screen) to make eye contact. 

  • Engage your participants by asking for a chat response. 

  • Check for understanding with a ‘thumbs up’. 

  • Maintain engagement by using breakout rooms, checking in, polls, sharing and whiteboard exercises. 

Check out Caelan’s Zoom Host Checklist for game ideas and exercises, or watch the replay here.

Digitally Speaking with David Kirk

NZTE launched their new event series Digitally Speaking at Techweek2020. The series offers inspiring insights into the world of digital commerce.

At this event, David Kirk, former Fairfax Media Chief Executive, Rhodes Scholar and New Zealand's first World Cup-winning All Blacks Captain, shared his experience in taking big business online, applying learnings to your business, leading the Board through digital transformation and navigating virtual negotiations.

Taranaki Tech & Talent Talk

Event Taranaki Tech and Talent Talk 601

Secondary school students got the chance to hear from those in the tech sector to shed light on pathways into tech careers. 

Kendall Flutey (CEO of Banqer), Simon Singh (CEO of Learner Me) and Aaron Taylor (Senior Backend Developer at Efinity) spoke about their journeys into tech and shared advice for those looking to pursue careers in tech. 

Their advice included:

  • Ask for context as to why you are learning something - knowing why you may need to know something once you leave school and the real-life implications of it may make it easier to understand. 

  • Think of programming and coding as a technical craft - you can make things and use it to solve problems. 

  • It’s important to find out your ‘why’ as early as possible as this will motivate you when times are tough.

  • School subjects that will assist you in tech careers include digital technology and math. You should overlay these with creative subjects that make you think differently or analytically, and other subjects that you are interested in. 

  • If you can, it is worthwhile to get experience with a local tech company, even if it is just spending a day shadowing them so you can get an understanding of the type of work they do and the skills it requires. 

  • Learning doesn’t end when you finish high school. Tech isn’t a static industry - got to continually be learning to keep up with it

Click here to see other similar events for secondary school students. These events are sponsored by the Ministry of Education.

Shouting Zeros and Ones

Event AUT Shouting zeros and ones 600

Data flows around the world as computers trade in 0s and 1s, silently making decisions that affect all of us, every day. Meanwhile, we humans shout louder than ever before, spreading news and opinions through social media, polarising society and pitting ourselves against each other.

A new book, Shouting Zeros and Ones, will be released in August 2020. Contributors to the book, Curtis Barnes, Anjum Rahman, Kathy Errington, and Donna Cormack took part in an online panel discussion which focussed on the spread of disinformation, reducing online harm, and Māori data sovereignty.

✨Thursday 30 July

Unlocking Global Opportunities

NZTE’s exporting series continued with a focus on the Dutch and German markets, as well as India and the Middle East.

Catch the earlier episodes on Greater China, Australia and East Asia on Play Stuff. 

NZ XR – Virtual and Augmented Reality Report Launch

How does the New Zealand Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and eXtended Reality (XR) industry compare to the rest of the world?

According to ‘Grandfather of Virtual Reality’ Professor Tom Furness New Zealand has the potential to be a 'lead dog' in this space. 

To do this, it is important that New Zealand has a global focus, rather than a New Zealand focus. In this covid-world, with the loss of New Zealand’s international tourism industry, there is opportunity for the VR and AR world to step up and create these digital tourism experiences which can be shipped worldwide.

NZ RX Virtual and augmented reality report launch 4 600

Phone Smart - couples therapy for you and your phone

Every year, an average person scrolls the height of Mount Everest on their phone!  AUT’s Dr Lena Waizenegger and Phone Free Day founder Taino Bendz presented PhoneSmart – couples therapy for you and your phone.  Their mission is to help us use our phones purposefully.  Choose how and when you use your phone and begin with just one of these simple steps; 

  • Measure your screen time. 
  • Schedule ‘do not disturb’ time on your phone. 
  • Switch your screen to black and white. 
  • While working, keep you phone in a desk drawer.  
  • Avoid using your phone for at least two hours before sleeping. 
  • Leave your phone outside your bedroom overnight.  
  • Avoid carrying your phone around with you at home and have a designated place for it. 
  • Turn off pop-up and sound notifications.  
  • Delete any social media accounts you don’t feel add value. 
  • Challenge yourself to a phone free day every week. 

Identity as taonga – trustworthy care of our identity

Who should be responsible when it comes to our digital identity? New Zealanders believe that there is a collective responsibility, according to new research from Digital Identity New Zealand and Yabble.

Responsibility belongs to:

  • Individuals. People must ensure that they use strong passwords, keep them private and change them regularly. 

  • Government. The Government needs to set a clear framework which is easy to understand and implement. It is vital that there is one that provides a lot of trust.

  • Companies / organisations. Consumers expect companies to follow the rules regarding their data, be transparent about the data they hold and have robust systems in place to avoid data being hacked and stolen. 

TV Digital Identity New Zealand Identity as Taonga 3 600

✨Friday 31 July

Empower through design: How technology and design can combat domestic violence 

Technology is a new weapon in the arsenal of those who perpetrate domestic abuse. 

Kara-dee Morden from Shine, a national domestic abuse charity, highlighted some of the types of technology facilitated abuse which happens in New Zealand: location tracking, control of technology, creating fake social media accounts for harassment, hacking, and sharing of private information.

IBM’s Lesley Nuttall shared the five design principles that should be employed when developing technology to reduce its ability to be used for harm.

Accessibility in webinars 

Accessibility issues is something most people consider when running a physical event, but it is just as important to give thought to this when running a digital event. 

Caelan Huntress shared his insights into how to make virtual presentations accessible for audience members with disabilities. 


Tech and the future of media

TV Stuff Sinead Boucher 600

Sinead Boucher, CEO and Owner of Stuff, discussed the way that the rise of technology has influenced their business.

Technology has allowed Stuff to tell stories in new ways - sharing content almost immediately, on different platforms and reaching larger audiences. But tech has also given rise to big international companies, such as Facebook, which has challenged traditional media outfits.

As a result, Stuff has changed the way it thinks of itself. Rather than considering themselves as a publisher, then think of themselves as a platform. It means that they can open up their platform to other publishers.

The Anywhere Workplace – work/life balance

Event Chorus The Anywhere Workplace 3 600

Chorus Network Strategy Manager, Kurt Rodgers joined Fund a Future’s Guillaume Dehan, Many Minds’ Mike O’Sullivan, NZ Made Products’ Sarah Colcord and Xero’s Ryan Ghisi to discuss work/life integration for remote workers.  Here’s the panel’s favourite top tips to make remote working, work for you;  

  1. Create a dedicated work space and daily routine. 

  2. Know your objectives and key results, then deliver them! 

  3. Schedule blocks of working and non-working time. 

  4. Schedule break times between online meetings. 

  5. Track your time and know how you are spending your day. 

  6. Learn how to use digital collaboration tools.   

  7. Check if your connectivity is suitable for video conferencing, downloading large files and managing multiple users.  Learn more

  8. Stay connected with work colleagues using virtual team activities. 

  9. Coordinate time to regularly meet your colleagues in person. 

  10. Bookend your day with a virtual commute by doing something fun. 

  11. Know when to finish work and turn off notifications.  

  12. Prioritise your health and wellbeing.

The future of digital and data driven technology in New Zealand

✨Saturday 1 August

Get creative with digital technologies

Event Get creative with digital technologies 2 600

Children got the chance to experience first-hand how to code in a step-by-step lesson delivered by Level Up Works. 

Using the Scratch platform, the children worked alongside the host on their own devices to learn how to build games and animation.The simple format allowed children to explore the basics of programming in a fun medium.

Games for Impact: Webinar with Alan Gershenfeld

Video games, once considered by many to only be mindless entertainment, have now evolved into a powerful medium which can assist with learning and have social impacts.

Developer Alan Gershenfeld shared his personal journey from the film industry in Hollywood and China, to running Actvision's game development studio to Chairing the nonprofit Games for Change and now making commercial social impact games at E-Line Media.

Attendees saw Gershefeld’s new game, Beyond Blue, which was released last month. The game was created in conjunction with the BBC’s Blue Planet Series 2, to give viewers a chance to experience the ocean more fully, in the hope they will be motivated to care more about its protection.

Event Games with Impact Alan Gershenfeld 1 600

Gershenfeld shared some best practice tips for people creating social impact games:

  1. Identify stakeholders and the impact they are seeking. It is important to consider all stakeholders and to ensure that they all share the same vision of what the impact of the game will be. Make sure you determine what financial return is required, if there is one, and understand the stakeholders’ tolerance for risk. 

  2. It is vital that you understand who the game is trying to impact so you can have a clear audience in mind when developing it. 

  3. Context is critical. Where the game will mainly be played (at home, school, workplace etc) and on what device (mobile phone, tablet, X-box) needs to be taken into consideration in the game design.

✨Sunday 2 August

Summer of Tech Talent Showcase

Techweek2020 wrapped up as it began - with eyes on the future.

The Summer of Tech Talent Showcase highlighted the next generation of tech talent with their annual Create Camp, a weekend long 'hackathon' style workshop which was held during Techweek2020. 

The theme of Create Camp 2020 was 'Customer, Community and Cloud'. Tertiary students with coding and design backgrounds, were challenged to use any API or dataset to build something as a team. Watch the video below to see the teams' creations. 

Missed out on Techweek2020? Check out the Replay Playlist for recorded Techweek events and view Techweek TV episodes at Play Stuff

Share this page:

Subscribe to the Techweek newsletter for updates straight to your inbox:

Recent news

Techweek22 highlights

20 May 2022

With 417 in-person, digital, hybrid and TWTV events, Techweek22 delivered a nationwide showcase of inspiring New Zealand tech stories, presentations, networking meetups, debates, leader panels, as well as interactive, education…


17 May 2022

Keep up to date with the Techweek Newsletters here

New Opportunities in Australia’s Booming EdTech Sector

16 May 2022

The Australian education system is renowned as one of the best in the world.