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Americans Lend Export Knowledge To Kiwi Companies

15 January 2003

Americans lend export knowledge to Kiwi companies

Twenty of America's brightest graduate business students are helping emerging New Zealand technology companies develop vital international linkages and marketing opportunities.

Five teams of MBA students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have arrived in Auckland to use their marketing, finance and product development experiences in some of America's most successful companies to help drive the growth of companies in New Zealand. MIT is recognised as one of the leading universities in the world, particularly in the areas of technology and innovation.

The MBA students have come to New Zealand because of a recent connection made between the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and the Entrepreneurship Centre, within the renowned MIT Sloan School of Management.

The Foundation's Group Manager of Investment Operations, Peter Benfell, met the Managing Director of MIT's Entrepreneurship Centre, Ken Morse, on a business trip in October 2003.

"Ken explained that his graduate students, studying global enterprise, were looking for placements in challenging international environments, and wanted to know if any New Zealand companies would be keen to work alongside them," says Peter.

The Foundation's team that works with the private sector, Technology New Zealand, along with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), were quickly able to find companies keen to work with the MIT teams. The teams will work on the projects for several months and are carrying out on-site activities with the companies in Auckland during January.

"The benefit for New Zealand from this exercise", says Peter, "is not only the advice the local companies will receive, but, just as importantly, the contacts and networking linkages that will be made between this select group of American business people and their New Zealand counterparts - now and in the future."

Technology New Zealand has a range of investment schemes that focus on assisting businesses to stretch their technological capability by undertaking research and development - leading to increased exports of products and services. Although the link between MIT and New Zealand companies is outside of Technology New Zealand's core business, Peter saw the exercise as an opportunity to work with NZTE to provide another valuable service to business clients.

It is hoped the partnership between MIT and New Zealand will continue to grow.

"Next year we would like to see MIT to working with15-20 companies. We are also working with NZTE to explore other ways of developing the relationship with MIT," says Peter.

The New Zealand organisations the students are working with are: Endace Measurement Systems (data network monitoring and surveillance specialists), Pulsecor and epiTherm (non-invasive medical devices), Interactive Technologies/SERKO (Corporate Travel Automation software), ABB (automation systems) and the HiGrowth Project (a project which aims to grow 100 New Zealand ICT Companies to $100 million turnover).


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