A half day event where leading thinkers share their views around the role innovation and disruption can play to drive regional growth in New Zealand
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This event will bring together leading academics and industry leaders to present their views on how regional growth in New Zealand can be driven through disruption and innovation in sectors such as agriculture, Māori business, technology and even tourism. The event will include breakout sessions and a moderated panel discussion. Speakers include Gus Balbontin, Hemi Rolleston, Kevin Bowler, Te Ururoa Flavell and more. This event is a partnership between the University of Waikato and Priority One.

  • Agriculture
  • Conference
  • Leadership
  • Research
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Carl Jones is the CEO of Tauranga-based technology incubator WNT Ventures. WNT Ventures operates two investments funds totalling ~NZ$1.5 million of capital including investment funding via Callaghan Innovation.
Former Executive Director & CTO of Lonely Planet, leading the organisation through a hugely significant and successful digital transformation. Currently active in the global startup scene as a founder, investor and advisor, as well as Entrepreneur in Residence at Victoria University (Australia).

Hēmi was CE of Te Awanui Huka Pak, Māori-owned kiwifruit business before joining Callaghan Innovation as GM-Maori Economy. He has significant governance, export & Māori business experience. He is a Waikato Management School graduate & attended the Stanford University Maori Leaders Bootcamp in 2013.
Professor Gibson was awarded the 2017 Distinguished Fellow of NZAE for his sustained and outstanding contribution to the development of economics in New Zealand. His teaching and research interests are in microeconomics with special emphasis on aspects of development and labour economics.
Kevin is currenty the CEO of Frucor NZ. He has a very broad and senior business leadership experience from a diverse range of industries including consumer packaged goods, telecommunications and media brands, in New Zealand and internationally. Kevin was the CEO of Tourism New Zealand 2010 - 2016.
Lain completed 9 years as CEO of Zespri before standing down last year. Currently Lain is involved in a number of interesting projects as an investor. Lain has a particular expertise in agribusiness strategy and brings deep insight into the areas of marketing, innovation leadership & supply chain.
Les is a highly respected Professor in Economics, University of Waikato; Adjunct Professor, Curtin University; & Honorary Professor, University of Stirling. His research interests include economic history; the economics of innovation; energy economics and environmental economics
Rod Oram has 40 years’ experience as an international business journalist. He has worked for various publications in Europe and North America and is an expert on deep sustainability, business, economics, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, in both NZ and global contexts.
Te Ururoa is the former Waiariki MP, Minister of Maori Development and Maori Party co-leader. He is currently running his own cultural relationships consultancy business in Rotorua while teaching part-time for the University of Waikato.


8:00 am
Tea and Coffee available
8:40 am
8:50 am
9:45 am
The Economists View
10.10 am
Regional Innovation Eco-Systems
11:05 am
Breakout Session 1 - Innovation in Agri
11:05 am
Breakout Session 2 - Regional Incubator Case Study
11:05 am
Breakout Session 3 - Tourism Innovation & Growth
11:40 am
That's a Wrap - Breakout Session Overview
11:55 am
Innovation in Māori Business
12:50 pm
Closing Remarks


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