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Techweek2021 highlights

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By techweek Techweek

1 June 2021

TEDx 950x500

Techweek2021 is underway! Below are just a few of the daily highlights so far…

✨Saturday 22 May

- TEDxAuckland

Appropriate that TEDx Auckland 2021, with its theme of optimism, opens Techweek2021 - one of the very few live TEDx events being held anywhere in the world right now.

The range of speakers and topics highlighted that we need a diverse range of ideas and disciplines, if we are to deliver on the theme of optimism.

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- Manurewa High School Makerspace

Great community event held at Manurewa High School Makerspace.  Awesome, creative hands-on workshop appealing to all ages. Makerspace was able to share more about how they design and use their tools.

Manurewa Maker space 3    Manurewa Maker space 4    Manurewa Maker space 5

✨Sunday 23 May

- Tautoko - Support

Microsoft/TechWomen and Sponsors got together to host this event in Christchurch for the community impacted by the Christchurch shooting incident to support, enable and upskill the community. This was primarily widows and young sons and daughters of the victims.

Part of the event consisted of a 30 min panel discussion with people from the community to speak about their dreams and challenges they are facing for companies to learn from and to understand how to help and support them.

The event was over two days with sessions around; personality and relationships using DISC, Intro to P&L and excel for small business by Bridgewest Ventures, IT career options and CV. creating by 40 Foot, AI workshop and potential roles in AI. It also discussed Microsoft free certification programs alongside mentorship program By Datacom and internships plus financial support towards certification by Bridgewest Ventures were offered.

Sponsors: TechWomen, Microsoft, Datacom, Ara Institute of Canterbury, Bridgewest Ventures, 40 Foot, University of Waikato, 109.

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✨Monday 24 May

- Techweek TV – Minister welcome

Minister Clark spoke about the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa that will enable the country to build a world-class digital nation. The strategy has three pillars

  • Mahi tika (trust)
  • Mahi tahi (inclusion)
  • Mahi ake (growth).

He recognises that  great ideas will be coming out of Techweek and he encourages people to share, enjoy and give feedback.

Minister Ryan 2    Minister5    

- Tech21 Summit

Duane Grace officially opened Techweek2021 and thanked all partners.

The Techweek theme this year ‘Connecting for a better future’ – all about connecting, engaging and collaborating for a better future.

Tech21 2    Tech21 4

The Tech21 Summit connected ākonga (learners) and the tech sector - navigating through our digital future!  Highlights included: 

  • Meeting digital disruptors ARA Journey’s Amber Taylor and James Brooks.
  • KidsCoin co-founder Brittany Teei shared how she switched from professional tennis to tech.  Her canine friends Bonnie and Clyde even joined her on stage! 
  • Exploring the land of voyagers with animation innovator Sir Ian Taylor.  
  • Weaving digital futures with Tara Fagan and Weta Digital’s Anne Taunga. 
  • The Young Innovators Panel said tech is important for connecting, creativity, learning new things and good for the world. 
  • How to make powerful career choices with GirlBoss founder, Alexia Hilbertidou. 
  • Exploring the imagine zone, where learners were able to touch, feel, see and imagine their future in tech! 

Whaia te pae tawhiti kia tata, Whakamaua te pae tata kia tina!
Explore beyond the distant horizon and draw it near, take hold of your potential so it becomes your reality!  


Tech21 pic 5   Tech21 pic 6   Tech21 pic 5 Techweek T2

- AUT – Hyperfocus - How to stay focused in an age of distraction!

Taino Bendz and Lena Waizenegger ran a one hour interactive workshop to help people become less distracted and more productive in a world full of internal and external distractions. The major challenges that prevent us from being focussed are: mind-wandering, sleep deprivation, tress, external distraction, internal distractions (i.e. procrastination), multitasking.

The audience was asked the question about ‘how do you procrastinate?’ Coming in at number one was (unsurprisingly) social media!

The myth of multitasking

  • In most cases you are not multitasking but rather ‘task switching’, while we think we are being effective research has proven that work produced is of a lower quality while stress levels become higher.

Some key take home tips on how to stay focused and work more productively:

  • manage notifications (on phone/email)
  • unsubscribe to unnecessary newsletters
  • Take breaks and do some regular exercises (easy ones  you can do in the office like calf raises, lunges etc)
  • 5-minute deal technique
  • try the pomodoro technique – 25 mins of focus then 5 minutes break. Repeat this four times then take a longer break.

Hyperfocus 3    Hyperfocus 7    Hyperfocus 8

- Accelerating Business Growth in the Agri Sector

Karen Newman (self described as ‘Farmer’s Wife’) shared her experience of how Xero has helped take the pain out of managing the farm accounts. It’s gone from a laborious, stressful and time consuming task to a more enjoyable one that provides critical insights to the business, allowing the couple to make informed decisions and build a clear strategy for future growth and success.

Xero, Figured and Paysauce introduced their cloud-based tools that help farmers in a constantly changing environment to:

  • connected to your farming team
  • access information to make informed decisions
  • run a profitable and compliant business.

Featuring: Kaitlen O’Connor  – Xero, Andrew Leighton – Figured, Kerrin Hotop - Paysauce

Capture4    Capture5    Capture6

Blockchain Innovation and Developments

Centrality in collaboration with BlockchainNZ, hosted this evening networking event which was a great chance to hear from local blockchain start-ups as well as established organisations.

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✨Tuesday 25 May

- Techweek TV: Future ways of working with TechTalent

Emma Parker is ANZ Tech’s Transformation Manager and leads ANZ Technology’s delivery of talent programmes of which the tech graduate program is a key part. She was joined by Grace Taikato who is currently going through the graduate program.

Grace’s take on the graduate program and ANZ as an employer:

  • ANZ offers flexible working, work/life balance, nice culture.
  • Didn’t need a technical background to be a part of the program, but just be keen to learn, try hard and ask questions.
  • Program offers loads of support including a buddy and mentor through all rotations.

Emma’s rundown

  • All early talent that comes through are very different, so all rotations are designed slightly differently to suit.
  • It’s not about the skills and behaviours that people have more aboutwho they are.To be a candidate and successful in the programme individuals need to have:
    • a curious mindset
    • be ready to take on opportunities
    • be able to work collaboratively
    • be passionate about technology

ANZ future ways working with tech talent 5.jpeg    ANZ future ways working with tech talent 6.jpeg

- Tech Story Inform Series: Webinar - Techweek 

In today’s changing world, it’s no longer good enough to sell products or services by simply promoting the price or features.  It needs to mean more – values, purpose and differentiators that connect with your target audience.  With this in mind, the New Zealand Tech and Innovation Story – or our Tech Story -is a marketing initiative from the industry and Government designed to deliver a consistent and compelling way of promoting our tech and innovation capabilities to the world.

Simon Pound facilitated discussion with NZTech’s Chief Strategy Officer, Julie Gill and IDC’s New Zealand Country Manager, Louise Francis and 35 year Silicon Valley veteran Randy Komisar.   

Together, they discussed how a compelling brand story can help our tech businesses grow internationally by; 

  • attracting tech investment 
  • attracting tech talent and 
  • growing our tech exports. 

Key brand themes that emerged during research include; innovative, trust, connected, diverse, collaborators, open, fresh, creative, maturing, values, unique, balance, humans in mind, punch above weight and growth.  The key message: Aotearoa’s tech ecosystem is growing and maturing, but is still young enough to be agile with fresh ideas.  The Tech Story will be activated later this year. 

Tech Story webinar 1a    Tech Story webinar 3    Tech Story webinar 5

- Techweek TV: Understanding Africa’s tech boom

Hosted by Hayley Horan for NZTE speaking to Sheila Yabo – Business Strategist, Venture Buuilder and Project Manager from South Africa.

What is driving it and any room for NZ?

  • Big foreign investment happening currently
  • Infrastructure and ecosystem now quite developed
  • Still a gap to ensure technology is being used well

Cape Town – how is this different to other places in Africa?

  • Around 60% of tech start-ups here, good place to learn and collaborate
  • Access to funding is better here
  • Top universities here

 Common mistakes foreign companies are making when entering African market

  • Africa is not a single country so what works in one might not work in the other – demographics are different everywhere.
  • Launching a product without testing.
  • Not investing in local talent.

NZTE Africas tech boom 1    NZTE Africa TV Tue 25 May

- Media Design School – Official Opening

Key message: Excellent work comes from a bright spark (in reference to the School’s logo).

The event was a celebration of:

  • the new campus in the heart of Auckland’s Innovation Precinct
  • the way MDS works cohesively with industry and engages with community
  • the students and their creativity
  • the value of creatives and technologists working together.

Linda Brown, Chair of Media Design School (and CEO, Torrens Global Education) was among one of the guest speakers: “We are celebrating a four year journey. [We have created] a home where everyone is welcome”

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- Explore Hillary’s Hut - Antarctica in VR

AUT Hillarys Hut

Aimee from the Techweek team took part in this immersive virtual reality, here is a recap of her experience:

“We sat down, put on our VR goggles and were instantly transported to Antarctica. For ten minutes we were transfixed on what the team had produced from over 4,000 hours of development.

The detail was incredible, it felt like you were actually inside Sir Ed's hut, moving around through the different rooms of the hut by hand controllers which through the goggles look like puffy glowing mittens.

You can even see food in the kitchen cupboards and oil paintings on the walls that have recently been restored. And when you peak outside the windows and move around you can see the changing view of the ice shelf.

I even felt a bit cold throughout the experience!”

 ✨Wednesday 26 May

- Techweek TV: Female leaders driving success

With: Kathryn Topp- CEO and Founder of Yabble, Anne Fulton- CEO and Founder of Fuel 50, Bex Rempel – Co-founder and CEO of ZeroJet, Maria Jose (MJ) Alvarez – Investment Manager at NZGCP.

Panel discussion with female founders who are taking New Zealand companies to the top. Some key points included:

  • Guiding principals for founding businesses were all vary as they are in different industries. But one common theme across the board was related to values and the importance of collaboration, transparency, fairness and integrity.
  • Investment and Government support for start-ups is good in New Zealand, a few key organisations include NZTE, Callaghan Innovation and NZGCP.
  • Biggest myth for tech founders:
    • Bex – You don’t need to be tech savvy to get into tech. What is important is passion, drive and a willingness to learn.
    • Kathryn – You need more than just a great tech product to be successful.
    • Anne – Agree, you don’t need to be tech savvy. It’s important to believe that anything is possible and to dream big!


- Techweek TV: My Digital Workshop – SMEs embracing tech

With:  Kurt Rogers from Chorus facilitating with Jessica Bell, Director – Scott Brown Carpentry, Patrick Moynahan – Managing Director, Computer Recycling, Paul Dyson – Director, Scarecrow

Technology has assisted these SME’s with:

  • marketing, customer reach and relationships through a YouTube channel and social media
  • business processes such as payroll, compliance, invoicing.

What’s important for SME’s?

  • As an SME starting out you become a jack of all trades and have to very quickly learn new skills - i.e. website building, logo design etc. Google is great!
  • a responsive supplier (with a good help desk – more than just online support)
  • All use various cloud-based systems but one they all agree on is Xero

Top tips for SME’s starting out:

  • Jessica - don’t be afraid just have a go – just Google!
  • Patrick - find a good implementation partner.
  • Paul – be bold and embrace technology.

Chorus digital workshop 26 May 1   Chorus digital workshop 26 May 2

- Conquering remote work challenges for individuals and organisations

During Techweek2020, we explored the new challenge of enforced remote working.   Today, nearly everyone is working remotely, at least some the time.  However, there is no one-size-fits-all remote working checklist!   

Remote working will remain for many organisations says RemotAbility’s co-founder Deepak Selvaratnam. However, the challenges (and opportunities) vary for individuals and organisations.  Remote workers need specific capabilities, but it is a combined effort, alongside organisations.  Regardless of capability, a targeted approach is required to support remote workers.   

Continuing individual remote work challenges include reduced supervision, communication issues, home office hazards and interruptions (like family, pets, doorbells and neighbours!), self-management, the blurred line between work and home, social isolation, motivation and wellbeing. 

Meanwhile, organisations are now managing hundreds of workplaces, instead of one.  This requires remote working policies and procedures, plus work tools and communications. New global remote work standards for individuals includes workspace, environmental conditions, technology, insurances/taxation, personal productivity, mental health and wellbeing.  

Remote Working 1

- Techweek TV: Uncovering SaaS solutions to agriculture challenges

With: Facilitated by Simon Yarrow - Callaghan Innovation, with Asantha Wijeyeratne - CEO Paysauce, Bridget Hawkins - Chief Sustainability Officer Crop X, Scott Townshend CEO – Trev.

  • A panel of Callaghan customers shared their journeys in creating agri SAAS products, securing investment to develop and grow, and then exporting.
  • New Zealand has an ‘awesome reputation’ in agritech which has been enhanced by our response to Covid-19.
  • There is now more funding and support for agritech entrepreneurs with the recent announcement of the Finiestere Aotearoa Fund.

 Biggest opportunities for SAAS to stand out in a competitive landscape

  • Address farmers pain points with technology in a simple, straightforward way. Compliance and regulation are key issues that keep farmers awake at night.
  • Be able to integrate with other systems / providers. Farmers want everything in one place
  • The driving force for adoption in technology is the smartphone. Farmers now have information in their hand.
  • Word of mouth is key to success

How to make your product exportable

  • Address pain points from farmers that aren’t NZ specific.
  • Build in global trends, ie sustainability. Help farmers meet consumer expectations by collecting and presenting data that supports sustainability claims, especially around food production.
  • Be clear who owns the data (the farmer or the solution).

Callaghan Wed 26 May 1    Callaghan Wed 26 May 2

- Soft Landing in the U.S. Denver, Colorado

Speakers for the event included Tony Ward – President of the Americas, Xero, Ben Calder – CEO, Wherewolf, Stephanie Garnica, Director of Global Business Development, City of Denver Economic Development & Opportunity, and Betcy Mathew, NZTE Portfolio Manager.

The tech industry in Denver, Colorado is thriving, and this is supported by a number of key proof points such as 2nd on the State Tech and Science Index, recruitment - 133K tech jobs posted in 2019, and economic impact - $50B – up 14%.

A common theme from speakers was the comparison between Denver and San Francisco. Differences in cost of good talent, staff tenure and training, living costs, ‘rules of business’ and lifestyle were cited as key reasons why setting up base away from the Valley and coastal US centres made commercial sense. As an example, average tech industry job tenure is 18 months in Denver but only 7 months in San Francisco which means higher training costs.

Amongst other initiatives such as the Denver StartUp Week, they have set up a global Landing Pad – which has focused on NZ and Australia specifically. The Landing Pad provides a great opportunity for businesses to access resources, introductions and opportunities to establish and scale locally.

Advice for kiwi tech businesses included thinking of Denver and the wider US was to think bigger than when in NZ, shift the attitude to celebration, opportunity and excitement – not typical kiwi business traits.  They also highlighted the importance of having an office in the US was vital for growth and being close to your partners for legitimacy. 

 Soft Landing in Denver 4    Soft Landing in Denver 5    Soft Landing in Denver 6        

 ✨Thursday 27 May

- New HealthTech Opportunities in the US: Navigating in the Know

Healthtech opportunities US

The US healthcare environment has never seen more change than it has over the last year--posing new opportunities and advantages for Healthtech companies entering and expanding their US presence.

Healthcare leaders Don Fowler, Principle at Venture Atlas Labs and Harris Eyre, entrepreneur in neuroscience and neurology-driven policy discussed what's changed since Covid, the impact of a new Administration, proven strategies for maximizing pilots and partnerships, and tactics to accelerate concrete commercial traction. 

- Data-Driven Farming

AgriTechNZ AUT Thursday 27 May

Brendan O’Connell – CE AgriTechNZ

Some of the largest databases in the country are the databases that have been driving genetic development from organisations such as LIC. To a large extent the industry is already strongly embracing data as an enabler, the opportunities to come are what are the additional uses and types of the data and how they work together. Like any other sector, how do we live up to the need and potential of digital transformations and building on the digital foundations for agriculture to improve the sustainability of what we do and improve the value of what we do and to keep creating more value for both NZ and for the world. Data is not new to agriculture but the potential is significant…

Kylie Horomia  - WayBeyond

Data itself is not new, it’s how the farmers are able use it and use it well. There are a lot of growers that traditionally kept information in notebooks and on paper, scribbled down and never looked at again. That is the change for us, everything is mobile apps, into your computer and into the cloud, looking into insights, trends, over months, weeks, days and for the majority it is environmental data that is being pulled, automation data you name it – it’s there but there is a lot and so it is how they are using it that has changed and is changing.

- Shaping the Future of Cyber Security in Aotearoa NZ and AU

CERT NZ’s co-founder Declan Ingram facilitated a panel discussion with researchers involved in the newly formed Cyber Security Research Programme. This large trans-Tasman project is creating tools to protect against future cyber attacks.  

Massey University’s Julian Jang-Jaccard, provided an overview on AI for automated response to threat.  This project focuses on uses cutting edge AI techniques to enhance resilience through detection, evaluation and response. 

AdobeStock 394250547

University of Waikato’s Vimal Kumar discussed AI for Human Centric Security (AIHCS) with a focus on assisting the humans (engineers) to work more efficiently.  Current work includes configuration generation, AI for automation and explanation generation. 

The University of Auckland’s Steven Galbraith’s also joined the webinar to raise awareness of post-quantum cryptography.  There is an urgent need to develop and deploy cryptosystems that can run on current devices but withstand an attack from a quantum computer, he said. 

- Sustaining Global Ambitions for Tech Success + Investor's Guide Launch

This exclusive evening event held at the GRID saw the launch of TIN’s new, expanded 2021 Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Tech Sector. It also featured a panel of NZ tech sector representatives sharing stories and discussing ideas on sustaining New Zealand's global ambitions for tech success in a COVID-affected world.

 Sustaining Global Ambitions for Tech Success + Investors Guide Launch 1    Sustaining Global Ambitions for Tech Success + Investors Guide Launch 2

 ✨Friday 28 May

- The future faces of tech

Hosted by: Paul Brislen, with Teresa Pollard – Associate Director Strategic Partnerships at Datacom, James David – Associate Director Sales at Datacom, Lee Timutimu – CEO & Founder Arataki Systems.

Addressing the skills shortage in New Zealand:

  • Industry a little behind - need to work with young people to encourage and inspire in tech.

How to inspire young people into tech:

  • Role models including Māori and Pacific.
  • Start talking earlier than at high school.
  • Very important to connect in at regional level.
  • Important to get parents knowledgeable and inspired for their children.

How to increase women into tech:

  • Work together and lift other women.
  • Actively targeting young wahine.

Other programmes:

  • While graduate programmes are great and much needed, it’s good to look beyond this.
  • Datacom are involved in the Take2 programme, giving opportunities to incarcerated individuals – teaching them skills to participate in New Zealand’s technology sector upon release.

 Datacom Future Faces TV 1    Datacom Future Faces TV 2    Datacom Future Faces TV 3

- Poets vs. Quants: How AI is increasing inclusivity in decision making

Matt Ensor, Business Director, Beca.

  • Time to rethink inputs into a business case. Quants currently 'own' a business case, but:
  • AI is bringing new insights to decision making by capturing richer information through National Language Processing.
  • Important because we need to recognise the nuances outside of a questionnaire tick box, ie do you strongly agree / disagree etc.  Matt illustrated the point by showing the Equality v Equity bike illustration (attached). 
    • Equality is providing the same level of support and assistance to all levels of society

    • Equity is providing different levels of support and assistance, depending on the specific needs and abilities. ie, the same bike is not best suited to everyone.

  • Beca are using Samoan and te reo AI powered virtual agents for public consultation to seek and capture feedback in their community's own language.  
  • However, It's important to understand how to use this richer information - data about communities is taonga - so you need to ask how do you use it in decision making?

  • When using AI, we need experts in diversity and cultural appreciation.

Ultimately NLP is bringing new insights to decision making, which needs a change in understanding how we develop business cases. You need the Poet and the Quant. (Quantitative analysts)

Poets v Quants 1    Poets v Quants 3    Poets v Quants Bike illustration 

 ✨Saturday 29 to Sunday 30 May

- Indie Game Showcase at GRID Auckland

A good time was had by all on a rainy Techweek Saturday!


 - Dunedin Schools Game Jam

 Dunedin Schools Game Jam ran from Friday through to Sunday and even featured on The Project

Dunedin Game Jam 3    Dunedin Game Jam 5


- CENNZnet Blockchain Hackathon

This hackathon ran from 8am Saturday through to 5pm Sunday. Participants went home at 10pm Saturday for some well needed rest but were back bright and early Sunday morning!

The hackathon was a huge success with a full house of talented devs taking part. The CENNZnet team was blown away by the quality of ideas and what was built in just two days. So impressed, that they doubled the prize pool as they couldn't pick just one winner!

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