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Rocketman Peter Beck wins EY NZ Entrepreneur of the Year

Friday 14 October 2016 08:47 AM

Rocketman Peter Beck wins EY NZ Entrepreneur of the Year

By Fiona Rotherham

Oct. 14 (BusinessDesk) - Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck, who plans to test-fire a one million-horsepower Electron rocket from the East Coast’s Mahia Peninsula later this year, has been named as the 2016 EY New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year.

A date hasn’t yet been disclosed for the launch which will be aimed for a low Earth orbit and will be the first of three test missions.

Beck’s fascination with the extra-terrestrial started in childhood and the 39-year old founded his company with the mission of removing the barriers to take business into space. While Rocket Lab is based in Los Angeles, most of the operational functions take place in New Zealand and it has the rights to launch a rocket every 72 hours for the next 30 years from the East Coast site.

He’s had tens of millions of dollars worth of investment from the likes of Khosla Ventures, Bessemer, and Lockheed Martin, and over 100 world class engineers have signed onto the flight development crew.

“It gave me enormous confidence that these virtual rocket ‘rock stars’ wanted to be involved to keep building and launching disposable rockets to get satellites into space,” he said. “We’ve really pushed innovation to the limit to achieve the frequency and cost requirements.”

Other category award winners were Colin and Dale Armer, Carmel Fisher, Ranjna Patel, and Jos Ruffell.

EY awards director Jon Hooper said this year’s category winners are all disruptors of traditional business models.

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EY’s recent Megatrends report said the next wave of disruptive technology – artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics, and other sharing economy platforms, will take labour displacement to a higher level.

As an example of where it might be heading, he said the US Defense Department is developing an onboard artificial co-pilot that can speak, listen, be visually aware and operate the cockpit controls.

In another example, 45 percent of executives attending the World Economic Forum in 2015 said they expected an artificial intelligence machine would be serving on a corporate board by 2025.

Boards will need new blood of a very different kind while those in legacy businesses need to challenge long-held assumptions about what your business actually is, who your customers are, and where your competitors come from, Hooper said.

“Then there’s the very important strategic question of finding the right balance between new ventures and established revenue streams which is globally driving a big chunk of current M&A activity," he said.

(BusinessDesk)

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