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Techweek22 highlights

By The Techweek Team

20 May 2022

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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 and community-based events. 

From Southland to Te Tai Tokerau Northland, Kiwis joined together to acknowledge and better understand the possibilities that tech and digital innovation offer our people, communities and businesses – Aotearoa's collective economic well-being. 

The share number of events put on by schools, universities, community organisations, tech businesses, regional councils, Government ministries and all our hardworking event organisers made choosing a highlights reel very tough. That said, here are a handful of our favourites.

A quick reminder that every one of our 79 TWTV sessions are currently available on-demand at our Stuff channel

Monday 16 May

Ministerial Address

Techweek22 opened with an address from the Hon David Clark, Minister for Digital Economy and Communications, where he spoke to the development of the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa, and the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan (DITP). 

"We've got the potential, I believe, to be a leading world digital nation and particularly with a focus on the ethical deployment of new technologies"  - Hon David Clark

During his address, the Minister outlined the Government's plans to invest in the DITP to support two key areas:

  • a focus on growing exports in the Software as a Service (SaaS) sector
  • further development of the New Zealand Tech Story 

Further, the Minister said there's now a domestic opportunity to tell the story of the tech sector to Kiwis. "This is a great opportunity to inspire more young New Zealanders into the sector. The sector needs to speak to and resonate with rangatahi, with young Pacific peoples, girls in education, people with disabilities, and across the regions of New Zealand," he said. 

Tauranga Tech Futures

Techweek kicked off with a bang in Tauranga, with the University of Waikato and Priority One celebrating the opening of a new ‘blue and green’ tech lab in Mount Maunganui.

The lab is the region’s first university research and development lab focused wholly on engineering and technology for the primary industries sector. It’s a space for university staff and students to grow capability in Tauranga across cutting edge technology to meet real needs.

University of Waikato Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alister Jones said “Blue/Green represents the way we can take research in the marine environment and in the horticulture environment and build synergies between those two to create a better kind of environment, better economic growth,” Alister said. “This is actually about collaboration.”

 

Synthesis: An Exploration of 3D-Printed Musical Instruments 

History was made at Techweek22 with New Zealand’s first-ever 3D-printed live performance.

Musicians played 3-D printed guitars, a drum kit, a saxophone and a microphone. Most of the instruments were made in the University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering’s Creative Design and Additive Manufacturing Lab, led by Professor Olaf Diegel.

Diegal said the 3-D printed instruments “were a significant intersection between engineering and art.”

The team was also working on scanning and replicating a pūtāratara, a traditional Māori conch shell instrument, driven by the university’s Māori community for preservation. “We’re talking to people about scanning waka or carvings should they become damaged or something happens. “When you’ve got a digital record you can reproduce them, print them and save them.”

“When you put a 3-D printer between an artist and an engineer, they can suddenly talk a common language and you see them truly collaborate, rather than just use each other. And the results can be amazing,” he said.

Tuesday 17 May

Rangi Ruru Girls’ School in Christchurch

Students from Rangi Ruru Girls’ School in Christchurch embraced Techweek22, with a range of activities and initiatives running throughout the school – and an exciting partnership with a national business.

Students have been experiencing VR gaming, creating augmented reality for social media and coding, while the school launched two new programmes to foster students’ entrepreneurial and tech skills.

  • The Academy for Enterprising Students, is a 10-week after school programme for students in Years 11 to 13 designed to foster tech-centric entrepreneurial and business skills.
  • a Year 13 class are piloting the multi-week Deloitte Grow Wāhine in Tech programme which aims to develop tech, human and entrepreneurial skills for young wāhine.
Celebrating Aotearoa’s inspiring Māori innovators 

Some of Māoridom's most inspiring movers and shakers in the Aotearoa tech space (including several finalists in the NZ Hi-Tech Awards) joined TWTV to discuss lessons for success.

Amongst topics of note, the panellists dived into the question of how we might see Māori, whanau Māori, hapū and iwi flourish in technology. On this, key takeaways included:

  • the need to incorporate Māori tikanga – understanding that tikanga is the foundation on which reasoning, behaviour, decision-making, design-thinking and action are based;
  • the importance of human tech – relationships, nurturing & connecting – this means bringing whanau into the fold, sharing knowledge and developing a greater understanding and trust between agencies, businesses, workers and iwi;
  • ensuring Māori storytelling is woven into research and development and that these stories are owned and shared for the benefit of Māori.
InvestHer 2022 

InvestHer saw nine women-led businesses, pitch to a packed house of investors. Conversations took place between founders and potential investors – and we’re excited to see what comes to fruition! View the journey of last year's speakers and what they have achieved here.

 

The event not only assisted these founders on their journey to raise growth or expansion capital, but aimed to inspire and support the growth of women-led businesses, address common barriers and leverage opportunities for success. 

The Future is Closer than you think!

Hosted at Unitec and drawing a 100+ crowd, this event featured an extensive audience Q&A session with panellists: Victoria Maclennan, Venessa Sorenson, Microsoft NZ MDSteven Renata, Kiwa Digital MD; and hot Gus Gilmore, CEO of Unitec and MIT.

  

On the topic of future trends speaker and digital equity advocate Victoria Maclennan predicted that:

  • "digital technology will become a core enabling element of solving complex global challenges - emissions reduction and climate change, wellbeing and equity, food sustainability, and child poverty for a start. As Gen Y move into management and Gen Z dominate the workforce they will demand to work on ethical, impactful projects"; 
  • education will move from the current model into one where learners are in control, reskilling and ups killing enabling frequent role changes, bundling together their own pathways leveraging micro-credentials and the ability to learn from any institute will become the norm," and
  • that "our industry has three large building blocks to resolve - Maturity, Governance and Capability."

Wednesday 18 May

Solution or Pollution: Emerging Tech & Climate Change in NZ

From smart city infrastructure and clean logistics, through green energy and precision agriculture – the applications of emerging tech in pursuit of a cleaner, greener future are immense – but at what cost?

Prioritisation for New Zealand [for carbon emissions] has got to be in supporting those technologies in the Agri and Tourism sectors that help us to be a strong export nation but also a leader to the rest of the world – we’ve got the right platforms to leverage, we’ve got the clean green image...the world's eyes are on us” – Dave Rouse Founder & CEO, CarbonClick

Developed by BlockchainNZ in collaboration with Auckland University Business School, this debate-style event saw leading industry figures, thinkers and disrupters join for a timely and far-reaching debate about the role of technology in achieving New Zealand’s emissions targets. View the above video to see key topics covered, including:

  • The digital sustainability index report
  • Where is NZ currently with Net Zero?
  • Is blockchain part of the solution?
  • What other technology ventures are there currently that are assisting with this?
  • Carbonisation – is it offset or is real reduction?
Data Download – Southland

Celebrating Techweek22 and technology in the south, Data Download gave an Invercargill audience the intel on Southland's planned $50 Hi-tech data centre. 

The centre, New Zealand's first T4 and first carbon-neutral data centre, is a potential game-changer for the region, offering connection to global lines of communication, high-speed stable internet to the region, and something of a "data campus." 

The idea is to work with the Southern Institute of Technology to potentially create a "hands-on" programme with the aim to attract more people to the region, as well to create opportunities for younger generations. Students will have the opportunity to learn about this growing industry in a three-year course while putting their knowledge into action at the data centre.

Ōtara 4.0 - Māori & Pasifika Creative Tech Speaker Series

Kicking off a series of talanoa in south Auckland during Techweek, the Ōtara 4.0 group aimed to introduce students to Māori and Pacific people already working in the industry. This first session, held on wednesday, focussed on animation and visual effects, including gaming, graphic design and e-sports.

For joint organiser, Samoan Digital Creative Ali Cowley, having a familiar face talk to about experiences is crucial.

“It gives you that window to ask people who actually work in that industry about how they got into that, and that’s coming from someone who’s got a Polynesian background.” So, you can actually relate to them, because they look like you. It just breaks those barriers down.” 

Leading Kiwi businesses form an Alliance to accelerate digital

Improved access to technology, expertise, advice, support and services will enable our people, businesses and communities to live, work and thrive in a sustainable and resilient digital world. In this TWTV session viewers heard about how private and public sector organisations are addressing digital inequity and encouraging a digital economy.

Featuring guest speakers Paul Conway Chief Economist from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand,  Jonathan Waecker from The Warehouse Group, Diana Kirkland from The Mind Lab, and Craig Young CEO of TUANZ, this session dives into the topic of digital equity in Aotearoa – with special reference to the Digital Boost Alliance.
Learn more about what the alliance is doing to brainstorm, coordinate and amplify efforts to drive digital productivity, wellbeing and social inclusion in the video above. 

Thursday 19 May

 

Unpacking the $20m budget to accelerate NZ’s tech sector

Graeme Muller, NZTech CEO and Victoria Maclennan IT Professionals CEO joined TWTV to discuss what the $20 m commitment announced by Minister Clark for supporting the Digital Industry Transformation Plan actually means for the tech sector.

"What we do know is the ITP needs a lot more than $20M to get across work that different parts of the education system are doing and needing to do – this $20M is going to help the growth engine – telling our story better and telling it in New Zealand better." - Graeme Muller CEO NZTech

View the full breakdown of the announcement, including what it means for New Zealand's SaaS sector and overseas marketing initiatives in the video above.

Building Kaitiaki for Intergenerational Deeptech Impact 

Disruptors from across the science and technology sector came together with R&D intensive companies in Christchurch to showcase the value of science-based commercial activity to New Zealand’s economic performance.

The event programme featured: a drop in mini expo aimed at school and student audiences for science students to engage directly with companies to discuss a career in science; and a networking & presentations segment with a range of dynamic speakers for quickfire presentations. Talks included:

  • "A place where talent wants to live" – Maryam Shojaei originally from Iran, now a researcher at UC, presented on safer technologies for NZ such as fire-retardant paint & sustainable flow-batters. 
  • "Fun science" –  Matt Cowan described the process of using material science and engineering to develop stabproof materials, preventing hazards in the lab and chloroform recycling.
  • "Fog-off!" – CTO Nick Jackson from Pyper Vision, showed how safety translates to efficiency in the aviation industry using homegrown innovation to eliminate fog.
  • "I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past" – Alyce Lysaght presented on her kaupapa to raise awareness, encourage engagement and increase representation of Māori in the engineering industry.

Pathways to Tech - For Students

For this nationwide digital event, Canterbury Tech invited secondary school students, their whanau, teachers and careers advisors to learn about the industry from three young tech professionals on their own career journeys.

Women Igniting a Passion for Tech

This was a sold-out in-person breakfast networking event at CoundownX featuring key talent speakers from analytics and insights, product, strategy & transformation and engineering practices. 

“Surround yourself with great women; stories of the women who have ignited our passion for careers in Technology.”

She# and Countdown collaborated to deliver first-hand the real stories of the women who are igniting our passion for careers in Technology. Key takeaways included the importance of networking and how in many cases job opportunities and access to information resources are and unintended consequence of this.

Friday 20 May

Byte - Digital Hub - Greymouth, West Coast

Byte Mawhera digital hub was proud to support Techweek22 – providing free premises and digital support to a range of groups from using coding, and building tech lego for tamariki to advanced business workshops and safe online gaming for kids.

Key highlights included:

  • a workshop taking pupils through the basics of using the design software Blender to create digital art;
  • a hands-on introduction to Virtual Reality and the 'Metaverse' and what these mean for businesses;
  • an exploration of the different aspects of gaming from eSports to social gaming spaces and their effects on mental health and wellbeing;
  • an introduction to websites and social media and how they can help grow your business; and a
  • a workshop on design for 3D printing.
MethaneSAT: NZ’s role in solving a climate challenge from space - Auckland

Featuring Aotearoa's leading space minds, this event offered the opportunity for the public to meet the experts behind New Zealand’s first government-funded space launch.

MethaneSAT is a satellite developed by the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund that will locate and measure methane emissions across Earth, producing quantitative data that will enable both companies and countries to identify, manage, and reduce their methane emissions, slowing the rate at which our planet is warming. 

Q&A - Growing workforce diversity in the tech sector

As the tech sector battles skills shortages, opportunities to connect & create career pathways are being missed. What can businesses do?

MYOB Chief Employee Experience Officer and Digital Boost Alliance Board member, Helen Lea, talks to Digital Boost's Anamari Fanthorpe about what actions MYOB has taken, and what other tech businesses could do to improve diversity and create more career pathways for local talent.

"Everybody at every level should be considering diversity, from parents building enthusiasm for diverse career options to primary and secondary education systems encouraging STEM subjects." - Helen Lea Chief Employee Experience Officer MYOB

"Aotearoa isn’t alone, there’s high demand globally for skills and tech talent. The New Zealand tech sector has grown exponentially but the skills supply is not able to meet the demand," says MYOB’s Helen Lea. There is enormous opportunity, but research shows there is a lack of diversity in gender and ethnicity. Diversity is valuable everywhere and the business case has been clear for decades, says Helen.   

Saturday 21 May

Indie Games Showcase 2022 - Auckland

The Indi Game Showcase – a Techweek favourite – offered a chance for developers to showcase their work to the public and Indie Community in a gaming convention style setting. Open to people of all ages, the event say a diverse range of Auckland gamers sampling games and networking with developers – for whom the opportunity to gain real-world feedback and practise pitching their game was invaluable. 

 

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