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Entries are open for the Success & Innovation Awards

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Entries for the 2017 AmCham – DHL Express Success & Innovation Awards are now open. If you have traded goods or provided services, education, intellectual property, royalties etc. to or from the United States of America, then you are eligible to enter.

The categories available are:

  • Exporter of the Year from New Zealand to the United States – up to $1m (NZD)
  • Exporter of the Year from New Zealand to the United States – $1m to $10m (NZD)
  • Exporter of the Year from New Zealand to the United States – over $10m (NZD)
  • Importer of the Year from the United States
  • Investor of the Year to or from the United States
  • Bilateral Service Award for education, science, research, culture, arts, sports and other sectors
  • Contribution to Tourism Award

Visit www.amcham.co.nz to find out more and to enter. Entries close at 5pm on the 31st May 2017.

China interested in NZ environmental tech

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

With China’s focus shifting to finding more environmentally friendly options for business, there are more investors interested in New Zealand’s environmental technology. At a recent summit in Auckland, companies from both countries were brought together to showcase the technology that New Zealand has been developing in the areas.

Find out more here. 

Angel funds invest record $69m in 2016

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Angel networks and funds invested a record $69 million into young New Zealand companies in 2016 – a 13 percent increase on the previous record set in 2015 – New Zealand Venture Investment Fund investment director Bridget Unsworth said today.

Releasing the latest Young Company Finance Index, Bridget Unsworth said the second half of 2016 was an especially strong period with investment of $46.1 million, following the trend in recent years which has seen surges of investment activity in the second half of the year.

“This is an excellent result.  The continued strong growth of angel fund investing was notable for the fact that while the transaction volume dropped by 15 percent, the amount invested by angel groups and funds increased by 13 percent.

“This indicates angel funds are continuing to back the winners for follow-on rounds. While it means fewer portfolio companies get funded, the high performing ones are able to close larger sized capital rounds. We see this as healthy development.”

The new companies funded by angels were at a very similar levels in 2015 (40) and 2016 (41), meaning the pipeline is steady.

Eight start-up companies raised investment rounds of more than $1.5 million which together totalled $20.4 million.  This accounted for 44 percent of total investment amount in the second half of 2016. Five companies out of this eight are software technology companies.

Chair of the Angel Association of New Zealand Marcel van den Assum said it is great to see the early stage investment community continuing to sustain a solid level of investment.

“Annual investment has exceeded $50 million for the last four years and grown by an average of $5 million per annum to reach nearly $70 million last year.

“This is a highly credible performance for a country where our startup ecosystem is still only a decade old and our early stage capital markets are still maturing. A concerted NZ Inc approach is required if we are to leverage the outcomes we aspire to see generated from our investment, and to sustain the performance of our startup ecosystem.

“In this respect it is good to see more money going into fewer deals and businesses attracting significant follow-on investment. This suggests a tighter focus by investors on those companies which are performing.  It will give the deepening growth capital providers in New Zealand – venture capitalists, corporate venture and strategic investors – more confidence to invest in angel-backed companies.”

The $69 million was invested across 112 deals compared with $61.2 million across 132 deals in 2015.  Cumulatively, $483.7 million has now been invested into young companies by angel groups since the Young Company Finance Index began measuring activity in 2006.

2016 saw $37.8 million investment into the software and services sector, which continued to be very attractive to investors.  Pharmaceuticals was the next most attractive investment sector in 2016, receiving $8.9 million of investment, up from $3.6 million in the previous year.

Click here to download the latest issue of StartUp.

Getting started with partnering webinar

Monday, May 1st, 2017

‘GETTING STARTED WITH PARTNERING’ WEBINAR

Tim Howell (Offshoot Consulting) and I are hosting a webinar at 11am on Wednesday 3 May to support our recently published eBook on partnering for Kiwi tech companies.

Partnering is a tried and tested strategy for tech companies to grow their business. Our 2016 Market Measures report showed us that there is a positive relationship between using a reseller or distributor, and high turnover growth, which makes us ask why aren’t more Kiwi tech companies using partnering as a strategy?

This webinar will break down best practice strategies for Kiwi tech companies looking to develop effective partnerships.

We will discuss:

  • Whether you are actually ready for a partner.
  • How to find that perfect match.
  • Aligning expectations with your partner.
  • Maximising your relationship.

Click here to register for the webinar.

NZ tech benefits from anti-immigrant bombast

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Graeme Muller of NZTech has recently discussed how the tech industry is one of those benefiting from anti-immigration moves being made around the world. “On the immigration front the changes announced last week by Minister Woodhouse are not expected to impact the tech sector. In fact, as I discussed on NBR Radio last week, the New Zealand tech sector appears to be benefitting from tightening of immigration policy around the world,” he says.

To find out more about why this is the case and evidence of it, listen to the NBR Radio interview here.

Monthly update from Memia Labs

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

This is the monthly update from Memia Labs; for more information about any of this, please contact them at labs@memia.com 

Virtual Reality is quickly developing proven real-world applications
This short film from the BBC shows just how far VR has come in the last year – showing applications for charity fundraising, treatment of PTSD, depression, teaching surgeons and, movingly, allowing hospice patients to experience their bucket-list items from their hospital bed.

Augmented Reality is already here, it’s just not widely distributed yet
Last year’s standout AR success of Pokemon Go (doubling Nintendo’s market capitalisation to $42Bn in months) and newly-IPO’d Snap’s continued AR innovation with it’s expanded World Lenses offering – commercial Augmented Reality is already mainstream, but still confined to the ghetto of social media and entertainment (and the under-20s).

@a16z’s Benedict Evans chronicles the end of Smartphone innovation, as the next mass technology platform – AR – rises to take its place in a classic disruption S-curve.

Meanwhile right now in 2017, here’s a good summary of what Facebook’s recent announcements mean for AR/VR startups right now – in particular the launch of AR Studio, a development toolkit aimed at developers of AR content. Facebook looks well positioned to build a critical mass ecosystem for AR content, with the early innovators Snap clearly in the sights…

Chief scientist of Facebook-owned Oculus Research Michael Abrash calls out April 2022 as the date when AR glasses will replace your smartphone and become your new everyday computing device.

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Economies, Cryptocurrencies

 
As VR and AR technology develops at an amazing rate, the themes that are explored in scifi novels such as Ready Player One and Reamde – where entire parallel realities have developed with their own rules of society, politics and economy – are starting to eventuate.

In addition, the evolution in blockchain-based cryptocurrencies provide a more reliable and permeable substrate for real-virtual-real-world currency transactions than those traditionally backed by the game makers themselves.

Escape to another world
As video games get better and job prospects worse in the real world, this sympathetic article from the Economist’s 1843 magazine profiles the young men dropping out of the job market to spend their time in an alternate, gaming, reality. A justified escape “for those who feel that the outside world is more rigged than the game”?

Parallel economies in virtual gaming worlds have been around for over two decades now – early versions of World of Warcraft launched in 2004 saw the advent of Gold Farming – developing world cybercafes full of virtual “farmers” would churn out higher-level characters with pockets full of virtual “gold”. This practice was since regulated by WoW maker Blizzard but in-game and real-world purchases of virtual world assets are now commonplace across many virtual reality worlds – either using an in-game auction mechanism or using a direct exchange-rate – eg ~256 Linden dollars to one US$ in Second Life (registration required).

Meanwhile, recently Pokémon Go accounts were reputedly exchangable for up to US$999,999.

The legal, regulatory and taxation framework for virtual currencies is still entirely muddy. However cryptocurrencies – being based only on software – can easily span both realities. As the penetration of crypto$ grows – in particular blockchain based App Coins – it is likely that the membrane between real-world and virtual-world economies will become increasingly permeable. Indeed, marketplaces where (real or virtual) goods and services can be exchanged for cryptocurrency already exist.

The World’s First Cryptocurrency Hedgefund
While not particularly focused on virtual-world currencies, a few months ago saw the unveiling of the world’s first blockchain asset hedgefund, Polychain Capital – with investment from Andreesson Horowitz and Union Square Ventures). Polychain founder Olaf Carlson-Wee is interviewed in a recent @a16z podcast: fascinating.

And in another significant blockchain development, the Ukrainian government has gone into partnership with Bitfury Group to bring a range of Blockchain solutions to the electronic services: “A secure government system built on the Blockchain can secure billions of dollars in assets and make a significant social and economic impact globally by addressing the need for transparency and accountability”

Can’t not mention Neuralink
More hyperactivity from Elon Musk (who incidentally also believes that we’re already living in a virtual world). Following on from his impromptu musings at last year’s Code Conference about Iain M Banks’ “Neural Lace” concept, he formally launched his new company Neuralink at the end of March. Plenty of noise, not a lot of substance at this stage.

An entertaining readup of Musk’s logic here from WaitButWhy: http://waitbutwhy.com/2017/04/neuralink.html

(As mentioned last month, Musk’s fellow Paypal alumnus Bryan Johnson has already been working on similar things building brain-computer-interface (BCI) prosthetics at his $100M-startup Kernel).

I’ve been following this space for a while now – my own take here from last year – personally I suspect Musk and Johnson are focusing on the wrong problem: by the time BCIs solve the outbound-brain-bandwidth problem, the human brain will likely be a small (replaceable?) component of the overall meta-intelligence architecture…

Non-BCI Prosthetics
Perhaps closer to the here and now, here’s a list of 10 Human Body modifications coming soon.

Privacy Concerns
Who owns your face? – Modern advanced face recognition lets police identify people (and groups) from far away and without interacting with them. Yet, unlike fingerprinting, in the US no federal law governs face recognition in 2017.

Federated Learning: Collaborative Machine Learning without Centralized Training Data – A gnarly privacy issue of machine learning is that private data has always needed to be processed centrally (and hence may not be kept private any more). Here Google Research outline their solution: all the training data remains on a user’s device, and no individual updates are stored in the cloud. Good stuff.

Other Bits And Pieces
And here are some other links we bookmarked this month:

In Our Time: The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum – The BBC’s Melvyn Bragg is one of those polymaths able to eloquently explore complex ideas across literally any domain of knowledge or culture. This podcast is a fascinating looking back at the fossil record to predict what is likely to happen as a result of current global warming trends – with some scary speculations at the end.

Teach Yourself Physics: some great links for those of us who gave up after high school.

A New Li-Fi System That’s 100 Times Faster Than Wi-Fi – providing speeds of 42.8 Gbit/s over a distance of 2.5 meters – but still about 5 years away from being consumer-ready.

Google Chases General Intelligence With New AI That Has a Memory

GitHub now lets its workers keep the IP when they use company resources for personal projects  – common sense prevails…

How spherical codes work – for example to communicate reliably with Mars

And lots of commentary this month about the concept of Doughnut Economics – attempting to model human economic activity within a Goldilocks zone of environmental and social sustainability.

Following on from last month, here’s a more accessible writeup on historian Yuval Noah Harari’s thesis about the forthcoming Rise of the Useless Class: “Most of what kids currently learn at school will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40”. Happy days.

Finally…

Personally I’m still challenged to find a concise answer when a family member or friend asks “so what exactly do you do in your job?” Apparently this is a classic problem for Neo-Generalists – “…living in an era still dominated by hyperspecialism and experts with ‘the one right answer’, the N-G defies easy classification – tricksters who traverse multiple domains, living between categories and labels.” As one reviewer put it, the book “forces us to re-evaluate traditional career trajectories and consider what it means to live, learn and lead in the 21st century.” Worth a read.

Comments, feedback, suggestions? Email labs@memia.com

New Zealand’s isolation a draw for overseas tech workers

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Long has New Zealand’s isolation to the rest of the world been a deterrant when recruiting offshore technology staff. Yet with the upheaval, uncertainty and political unrest throughout the world, the focus is now turning to us.

For Christchurch organisations, this is an opportunity to promote a way of live when advertising overseas. The calibre of technology emerging from Christchurch, paired with the tranquillity of the lifestyle of the area can make for a massive selling point for businesses.

To find out more about why our isolation is now such a good thing, click here.

Government alliance a stepping stone to becoming a digital nation

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Our Communications Minister, Simon Bridges, recently released the Building a Digital Nation report which outlines several programmes to drive New Zealand towards becoming a digital nation. One of the programmes discussed is an alliance between the digital sector and government to explore the economic and social benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The alliance will provide a forum for enabling us to better understand the benefits and potential issues of IoT, such as privacy and cyber security.

“Initial research by the alliance, which will provide an evidence base for future work, already suggests potential economic benefits to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the New Zealand economy through the deployment of IoT across a variety of sectors,” says Bridges.

To find out more about the alliance and the full Building a Digital Nation report, click here.

Talent shortages in the New Zealand tech industry

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

The growth of the New Zealand tech industry, thanks to companies such as Xero, Vend and Orion Health, has opened up many opportunities for companies, but has also exposed many gaps. One of these gaps is the lack of skilled talent in New Zealand.

The community is Christchurch is proactively trying to close this gaps with STEM, coding and shadowing initiatives but it is still being felt throughout organisations.

Icehouse Chief Executive Andy Hamilton discusses the gap and opportunities in a recent article. Click here to read it.

Getting the brand together

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Why are resellers and distributors an unfashionable route to growth for tech companies?

Music fans mourned the untimely demise of Joni Sledge, one of the quartet of Sledge sisters responsible for the disco anthem ‘We are family’, released in 1978. The classic tune remains popular almost 40 years later amidst all the explosion of musical styles we enjoy today. Fortunately, we haven’t become too carried away by the latest hip-hop to forget the big hair and big beats of disco.

In the marketing world digital has become pervasive, to the extent it sometimes seems the ‘classic’ ways to grow a business like using channels (e.g. resellers, distributors, sales agents) are seen as irrelevant. According to the evidence one of the best ways for New Zealand technology companies to grow is selling through channel partners.

The main method of indirect selling is through resellers who typically handle the physical distribution, sale and implementation of a product. Licensing is another indirect option, where a company can use your product, or a part of it, as their own branded product. And there are many variations on these themes.

“If the product is really good the next most important thing is to have a crystal clear understanding as to what is the best distribution channel for the product,” said one respondent in the annual Market Measures study of hi-tech sales and marketing.

A finding of the 2016 study of 300+ Kiwi tech exporters was that although using a reseller or distributor had a positive statistical relationship with high turnover growth, only one third of companies surveyed used a channel of some sort. While that is an increase on the 25% of channel users in the 2010 study, there is still plenty of opportunity.

To read the full blog, visit the Concentrate website here.

Your chance to showcase at VivaTech in Paris

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

The French Embassy is looking to sponsor 8 New Zealand startups to VivaTech in Paris from the 15-17 June 2017. Capitalising on the success of Antipodes 2016, the Embassy of France is looking to take kiwi ingenuity and creativity to the French Tech and Digital ecosystem.

VivaTech is the new global meeting for game changers, bringing together the most innovative startups and global players in digital transformation. After the first edition in 2016, VivaTech has established itself as a major technology event, bringing together 45,000 visitors, 5,000 startups, 800 speakers and 250 investors from 106 countries.

You are eligible to apply if you are:

  • A New Zealand start-up, less than 8 years old, with innovative tech solutions, looking for international investors and partners.
  • Seeking an opportunity for a pitch or to showcase a viable commercial product internationally in a B2B environment.

Companies selected by VivaTech through the VivaTechnology Challenge Platform receive free registration passes to attend the events, showcase their work and participate in a range of activities, from pitch to networking sessions. Successful applications will receive one of the up to 8 international return flights sponsored by the French Embassy.

To apply, visit the link here: https://challenges.vivatechnology.com/

Deadline for applications is 17th April.

About Viva Technology

Website: https://vivatechnology.com/
PDF presentation and press kit of the event: http://bit.ly/Antipodes2017

Practical Info:

15th – 17th June 2017
Paris Expo Porte de Versailles
Paris, FRANCE

How to apply:

  1. Apply directly on the VivaTech application platform (https://challenges.vivatechnology.com/en), choosing any of the offered challenges.
  2. Let us know to which challenges you applied at cooperation.wellington-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr
  3. If you get picked by VivaTech and receive a confirmation message, we will cover your international airfare.

What does a challenge look like:

The 130 challenges are defined by 20 major corporate partners on a vertical around specific sectors, for example:

  • Tourism – How can new virtual and immersive experiences be created in the hospitality industry?
  • Finance – How can the user experience be improved in portfolio management?
  • Human Resources – How can artificial intelligence improve HR planning?

Contact:

For further information, please check the available documentation at http://bit.ly/Antipodes2017 and contact:

Sarah Guejdi
Scientific and Higher Education Attaché
French Embassy in New Zealand
T: 04 802 77 84
E: cooperation.wellington-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr

HOW TO START A BUSINESS WITHOUT QUITTING YOUR DAY JOB

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Starting any business involves an element of risk. But then so is relying on a job. And to be honest, as your entrepreneurial experience grows, the risk involved in starting new businesses diminishes as you become a better entrepreneur.

Because really successful entrepreneurs  learn how to set things up in a way that mitigates much of the risk involved. For instance, they won’t develop a product until they have validated demand for it in the market. They won’t launch a new venture until they have the investors they need lined up. They won’t enter new markets until they have already established partners in that market.

Read more>>

Christchurch: A city of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Know of a business interested in locating to Christchurch? Or a serial entrepreneur who is looking for their next opportunity? Help them to make the move by finding more about what New Zealand’s newest, most exciting city has to offer. 

Inside they’ll see the top reasons to invest in Christchurch, the latest stats on our economy and workforce, an overview of our key sectors and some of the quirky and cool facts about Christchurch.  

Download the publication here

Ākina Foundation’s Investment Readiness Grant

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Ākina Foundation’s Investment Readiness Grant is a New Zealand first, providing social enterprises and mission-driven organisations with grants of $5-10k for support from professional services to secure investment.

We are now seeking expressions of interest for our first funding round. Grant funding might be used for legal support, financial modelling, funding strategy, design for videos or other communications … whatever you need to get investors on board!

First round of applications close on the 10th of March.

Laundromap Launches New On-Demand Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service in Auckland

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Laundromap – dry cleaning and laundry to and from your door.

Laundromap, a new on-demand laundry, and dry cleaning announced today it will be launching in Auckland – it’s the first location on the roadmap with plans to enter other major cities throughout Australasia over the next 18 months.

As one of New Zealand’s newest on-demand start-ups, Laundromap is looking to drive customer growth quickly. The revolutionary laundry and dry cleaning start-up, with the desire to be the ‘Uber of Dry Cleaning’, has already acquired a loyal customer base. Many have been quick to try out the service using the complimentary $10 off code ‘FEELFRESH’.

“We are excited at the opportunity to provide a seamless ordering experience for Auckland city and beyond,” said Hayden Foster, Laundromap co-founder, and CEO. “We always knew the idea of on-demand laundry and dry cleaning was very compelling, but we’ve been overwhelmed by the initial feedback from early testers who have come onboard. Enabling customers to schedule collection, delivery, and payment with just a few clicks is very appealing.”

Laundromap New Zealand has been founded by a group of experienced entrepreneurs and has support from a core group of early stage investors. Partnering with experienced and local dry cleaners has allowed Laundromap to focus on the technology and customer side of the business, with the aim to provide a seamless ordering experience for every wash. With experience in dry cleaning and washing for 1000’s of customers and access to award-winning technology that has been used on over 750,000 orders the time to market has been fluid.

Laundromap is also available as a free download on Android and iOS devices – with their desktop app launching in early 2017.

source:www.laundromap.co.nz

Never Stop Innovating In Business or Your Love Life

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Are you having an affair with your business?

As entrepreneurs, we have a special connection with what we do for a living. We find significance, growth and fulfillment. When we use our businesses to feed our emotional needs, we sometimes become addicts. As the addiction grows, we cannot leave work behind and we spend more time there — so much more time that our spouses may think we are having an affair at work.

Statistics show higher divorce rates among entrepreneurs. Passion for their work causes them to sacrifice family life for business success. My work with high level businessmen has helped me see their truth.

Read more >

MBIE ANNOUNCE NON-DEVOLVED PRESEED FUNDING NOW AVAILABLE

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Applications are now open for the Non-Devolved PreSeed Accelerator Fund (PreSeed), a Government initiative that aims to supports the commercialisation of publicly-funded research.

The PreSeed Fund is designed to support research organisations in progressing early stage commercialisation of new ideas towards a point of investor-readiness, enabling a greater economic return on New Zealand’s science system.

The non-devolved stream of the PreSeed Fund is specifically for public or not-for-profit research organisations, or collectives of organisations, that do not hold a devolved PreSeed contract.

Up to $879,898 is available over three years through the non-devolved fund, an increase compared to previous years that recognises the impressive commercialisation outcomes the initiative has already achieved.

Funding is available through an on-demand process.

For information on how to apply, please refer to the Non-Devolved PreSeed Accelerator Fund Call for Proposals 2016 -2019 [PDF 633KB] document.