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Taking New Zealand’s ‘frontier Firms’ To The World: Techweek2021

As a country located somewhere near the very end of the world, New Zealand has had little choice but to cope with ‘the distance’ for all its history. But just as newly introduced refrigeration technology revolutionised our economy in 1882, information technology today is delivering a similar yet vastly expanded step change.

It is, says NZTech CEO Graeme Muller, a unique and frictionless export industry which transcends all physical barriers. “Taking these frontier firms to the world is among the key drivers behind the Techweek festival of innovation,” he confirms.

Presented by NZTech, Techweek is a nationwide series of more than 300 events, which starts with a full day of TEDxAuckland talks. The feature is the result of a newly forged partnership between Techweek and the producer of the popular ‘technology, entertainment and design’ (TED) discussions which have taken the world by storm.

TEDxAuckland 2021 puts optimism centre stage with an offering of diverse speakers and ideas with the potential to change the world and takes place at LIFE Central in Mount Eden on Saturday 22 May. Monday 24 May sees the Ministry of Education and NZTech officially opening the programme with the Tech21 Summit at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau.

This year’s Techweek is about celebrating, exposing, encouraging, and inspiring, with a theme of ‘connecting for a better future’, continues Muller.

He explains that the concept of ‘frontier firms’ was discussed in an April 2021 report from the Productivity Commission, which examines issues facing four significant industries in New Zealand’s economy: dairy, health technology, horticulture and software products and services.

“The report makes clear that given the realities and limitations of exporting physical goods, ‘weightless’ products like software, healthcare technology, and creative outputs, are the future of our economy. And Techweek is probably the best opportunity you’ll have to see how local companies and innovators are forging the path towards tomorrow.”

He draws attention to the interactive ‘Imagine Zone’ at the Tech21 Summit, a space for ākonga (learners) to touch, feel, see, and imagine their future in tech. It includes robots, rocket building, sensors and special effects. Encouraging younger generations into Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) is essential for multiple reasons: beyond being a part of everyday life, the broad and diverse technology industry offers rewarding careers, with a wide range of skills constantly in demand.

“More than any other industry today, technology offers solutions to local and global problems, whether sustainability, clean energy, extending financial services to more people, and even education itself,” says Muller.

These are problems being solved by a thriving industry of local world-class innovators, producing uniquely exportable intellectual property which offers enormous potential for transforming productivity and the economy. “Where traditional exports are struggling in today’s unusual economic climate, the characteristics of technology – software in particular – means local businesses are getting their solutions to customers worldwide.”

Muller has previously stated in the past that by 2030, technology is likely to be the country’s top export earner by 2030. He now says that target could be reached sooner, as the ructions of COVID-19 have accelerated global demand for technology solutions of all kinds.

Finally, he says New Zealand is home to a diverse, resilient and high performing community of world-class entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders and companies. “We’re doing a lot of really good stuff – but many Kiwis probably aren’t aware of it. That’s why I encourage everyone to check out the full Techweek agenda, find an event near you, get stuck in and see where you can fit into our technology-driven future. Let us inspire you,” he concludes.

Techweek2021 is on from 22 to 30 May 2021. View the programme and learn more at

About Techweek2021

Techweek2021 is a national celebration of tech and innovation presented by NZTech. During 22 – 30 May 2021, physical, hybrid and digital events that showcase the use of technology in Aotearoa New Zealand will take place across the country. Techweek2021 is supported by the Auckland University of Technology; Callaghan Innovation; IBM; Auckland Unlimited; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; Ministry of Education; New Zealand Trade and Enterprise; ANZ; Chorus; Media Design School; NZ Growth Capital Partners; ASX; Beca; CENNZnet, Datacom; Tower; Access Advisors; The Icehouse.

NZTech is a not-for-profit membership organisation which is the voice of the New Zealand technology ecosystem.

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