Regional tech innovation is set to shine this year as Waikato gears up for Techweek19.
The week-long technology showcase, running 20-26 May across the country, is designed to bring together ‘tech’ and ‘non-tech’ people alike. Techweek19 Waikato is being led by Te Waka, Waikato’s regional economic development agency, in partnership with CultivateIT, Waikato’s IT industry group, and will take place across the region.
This year’s theme is – ‘innovation that is good for the world’, with content split into two categories, ‘Inspire’ – for New Zealanders of all ages to engage with technology, and ‘Build Capability’ – for businesses and tertiary institutions and students to incorporate technology into their work and study.
The Waikato region was ranked the fastest growing tech region in New Zealand in last year’s Technology Investment Network (TIN) report for the second year in a row, recording $119 million regional revenue growth among its top tech companies in 2018, the largest revenue growth rate in the country at 16.3%.
Project lead and CultivateIT Operations Manager Jannat Maqbool says the festival of innovation is designed to support of regional tech activities, recognising the individual strengths each region has in the sector.
“This year we’re not only showcasing our regional tech capability, but also highlighting the collaboration that exists between different groups and sectors, inspiring the next generation and bringing to the forefront the extent to which our local capability is driving innovation around the region and making an impact around the world,” says Maqbool.
“The demand for people with digital skills is high, and continually growing. We’ve got fantastic capability in the Waikato region, and crucially, we’ve also got the relationships and networks to enable the collaboration needed to lift tech projects and get them to a global audience.”
Following the success of last year’s event, which attracted more than 1300 attendees across 21 events, with 68 speakers and 31 exhibitors, this year’s format will follow a similar formula with events planned across the region in Hamilton, Raglan, Thames, North and South Waikato, and Cambridge.
The opening showcase event ‘Live Local, Work Global’
A Māori tech showcase and business panel, hosted by Waikato-Tainui
A small business retreat in Raglan
Events and panel discussions covering agritech innovation, smart cities, and deep dives into emerging technologies
Community drop-in sessions to encourage interaction with technology
A LinkedIn Local event to facilitate online relationships offline
Workshops covering design thinking and data visualization
And much more to come
Maqbool says with each Waikato Techweek festival becoming more successful each year, people from non-tech backgrounds are taking an interest.
“And that’s really great to see,” she says. “Technology is part of our everyday lives in so many ways, and in a really sophisticated way, so it’s fantastic for people to see platforms such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are no longer ideas behind closed doors, but out in the real world and being engaged with on a daily basis.
“It’s really about showing people this stuff is accessible to everyone – and that it’s also really cool and interesting.”
Te Waka CEO Michael Bassett-Foss says he’s excited by the breadth of tech talent in the region and is looking forward to seeing it on show.
“One of our regional growth drivers is focused on our tech capability, specifically building digital skills and capacity, supporting small to medium enterprises with digital transformation and fostering regional technology innovation,” says Bassett-Foss.
“We’re proud to be working with CultivateIT to engage the community and industries across the whole region to bring our tech capability to the forefront. We think it’s important that the community can see and celebrate how much their region is leading the charge in this area.”
Organisers are calling for Waikato companies with technology interests who want to exhibit at an event or individuals wanting to support the initiative in other ways to get in touch with the team at Te Waka by emailing email@example.com
More information is available at cultivateit.nz/techweek