Innovation / Technology


  • Professor Christoph Schumacher - Professor of Innovation and Economics Massey University Business School


  • Tony Caughey - Chariman, Smith and Caughey's
  • Patrick McVeigh - General Manager Economic Growth, ATEED
  • Dean Peterson - Group Manager National Technology, Callaghan Innovation
  • Lorraine Warren - Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Massey University
  • Michael Whitehead - Chief Executive Officer, WhereScape

Why should Tech/ICT be based in the North Auckland region?

  • There is rising investment in the sector
  • Strong employment growth with salaries double the NZ average
  • Four times as many firms investing in R&D than the average for all sectors
  • Rapidly increasing exports
  • More demand for ICT skills across the economy – business are now paying signing bonuses for skilled ICT professionals

(from a 2014 MBIE report)


Key Points:

NZ tends to lose a lot of its bright people and IP to international companies so NZ needs a strategy to build deep capability in a few selective sectors and then protect that capability by making acquisitions offshore to ensure staying power.

  • The new ICT graduate school planned for Auckland. This is from a government investment of $28.6 million over the next 3 years
    • Based close to ICT firms in Auckland, Wellington & Christchurch.
    • Six universities/technical institutes are bidding for the school.
    • Thriving technology business establish close to where the pool of talent is and where there is room to grow.
    • Auckland has 50% of ICT employment in New Zealand.
    • What the North Shore desperately needs is for companies to support this bid. It is an essential element of the innovation hub that the North Shore must have.


What types of people are setting up businesses in this area?

Deep technology-based businesses

Late entrepreneurs – 40+ people returning from overseas, who lack access to the leading technologies available

Both types benefit from an engagement with the deep thinkers in the University who are located in the same building – and from students who are graduating with the right skill mix for these start-ups

If you look at at the diversity of the North Shore’s economy, there is ICT specialisation, strong manufacturing in Rodney, wholesale trade in upper harbour, broader Finance/Insurance services in Devonport – there are a range of sectors growing and visible in the economy.

A strong ICT sector supports the growth of the other sectors, and the University, and the ecentre, along with other partners, including ATEED, Callaghan Innovation and the local boards have an opportunity to support this growth.

In North Auckland, there are opportunities to create multi-hub centres. How do we create that tech campus environment? That’s important… but there are interesting spatial dynamics. How does Auckland become poly-centric, so there are multiple destinations for businesses to put down roots? What role does that play in growing our economy? In all of those areas, innovation and technology will play an important part in their growth.

How do we build that deep capability? How do we develop platform capabilities that can spin out a whole series of different companies?

From a global perspective - we need to look at those global connections to better understand how Auckland’s economy & businesses are connected to different countries, cities and regions. North Shore IT businesses include Booktrack, Unleashed, eRoad… are all tapping into those international opportunities, identifying pain points & how we as NZ can respond.

A global orientation is critical, and innovation plays an important role in how we respond to global opportunities. Research shows innovation-based businesses grow quicker, pay more and are more likely to be engaged in offshore activity.

Innovation has a key role to play in the productivity of individual businesses.

Nationally, we have a mixed performance in innovation and we need to do more to increase the rates of business investment in R&D, patent investments and ongoing spin-out of start-ups from universities.

Greater connectivity – UFB, rural broadband will help with this.

There is an opportunity now that looks to leverage the discussion around the ICT Grad school, Grid AKL, investments like the FoodBowl – the time is now to build that deep capability at platform level to get that growth.