Verizon Connect celebrates its Christchurch roots

This article is reposted from Christchurch Tech Stories – celebrating our local tech scene. For more case studies visit:

From homegrown tech talent to multinational enterprise, Verizon Connect (formerly Telogis) still calls Christchurch home.

With offices in 15 countries across the world including London, Sydney and Chicago, the Canterbury success story first started with a dream to optimise the way people, vehicles and other things move through the world.

Verizon Group vice present of mobile research and development Gary Jensen.jpg

Founded in 2000 by Christchurch local Ralph Mason and American Newth Morris, the company, then known as Telogis, developed a fleet tracking software to track the location of vehicles.

Rebranding as Verizon in 2014, the company created the Verizon Connect portfolio of solutions and services, yet group vice president of mobile research and development, Gary Jensen, says Christchurch remains the beating heart of the company’s research and development activities.

Much of the group’s original technology was developed in Christchurch and Jansen says this has been instrumental in transforming the enterprise into a technology leader and pioneer in the telematics industry.

“We have the capability and go-to attitude to think laterally and build the most innovative solutions in ways that other countries and locations might not be able to,” he says.

“The quality of software engineering students and the close relationships we have with Canterbury University and other groups has helped to make Christchurch a thriving place for our technology company,” Jensen says.

Verizon Connect regularly hires university graduates for its Christchurch office and hosts interns, with many staying on as permanent employees after graduation.

“The Christchurch tech sector has come through massive leaps especially in the last 5 to 10 years,” Jensen says. Today Christchurch’s world class tech sector is the second largest in New Zealand, contributing around $2.4 billion of GDP and exporting $1.1 billion annually.

Diverse and creative with a rich tech talent pool, Christchurch’s tech sector also encourages strong business and student relationships, to ensure the right skills in the city’s future workforce pipeline.

“Community groups like CanterburyTech have also helped increase the profile and strength of the Christchurch tech sector significantly, bringing to light some of the strong engineering work the city has always been good at, but no one was aware of.”

Jensen says Christchurch’s closely connected tech community and supportive business environment also makes it an ideal environment for start-ups with big ideas.

And the secret to capitalising on those ideas is to; “focus on the big picture beyond the local market, while still keeping roots in the Christchurch and Kiwi way of doing things.”

Effect of online shopping on personal & freight transport in urban areas

You are requested to take part in an online survey related to the study on ‘Effect of online shopping on personal and freight transport in urban areas’.

The study is being conducted by Ashu Kedia, a PhD student in Transportation Engineering, under the guidance of Professor Alan Nicholson (Emeritus Professor in Transportation) and Dr. Diana Kusumastuti (Lecturer in Transportation), at the University of Canterbury.
The aim of the study is to explore the effects of online shopping on urban transport system, wherein changes in travel behaviour of consumers and goods’ transport, as a result of online shopping will be examined. Also, the feasibility of establishing collection and delivery points (CDPs) to facilitate goods’ transport, will be investigated. Christchurch city has been taken as a case study to achieve the objectives of the study.
Please note that participation in this study is voluntary. All data collected will be kept strictly confidential. You will not be identified in any reports or publications. Your completion of the online survey will indicate your consent to participate in the study.
Ashu will be available to discuss any concerns that you may have about participation in this study. Also, you may receive a copy of the results by contacting at the conclusion of the study.
If you agree to participate, you are requested to fill the online survey using the following link. 
Note: the survey link will remain valid, only till 25th of this month. The survey should take no longer than 20 – 25 minutes to complete.

Vodafone xone rallies Class of 2018 for launch

Photo credit: Richard Parsonson.

Vodafone has announced its upcoming Vodafone xone class of 2018, as it gets set to take nine of New Zealand’s best tech-based startups global.

Head of xone and innovation Lauren Merritt says that in xone’s third year of operation, they’re thrilled to work with both established and first-time founders.

“They are working in a diverse range of industries with products spanning wearable health tech and AI-powered chatbots to beer and music,” Merritt adds.

“Many of the companies are using AI and their own natural language processing technologies to drive impressive customer experience solutions and unique ways of enabling people to connect and enjoy life.”

One of this year’s class of 2018 is Melodics, which is described as software that makes practising music fun.

“Melodics is a product that we know people will love. Turns out, 90% of people who try to learn an instrument fail and Melodics want to decrease that percentage by putting a music master on your desktop and keep you engaged through gamification,” Merritt comments.

Another class member is Urigo, a wearable health tech that tracks bladder flow.

“For a health tech company like Urigo, xone can support them to test and build their device alongside our technology and networks teams to give them a competitive advantage in a crowded wearables space,” Merritt adds.

This year’s class of 2018 will be run from Vodafone xone’s Christchurch Innovation Lab for the six-month programme. The businesses will travel from as far as Wanaka and Auckland, and many places in between.

The nine companies will receive a package worth more than $150,000. It includes seed funding and access world class technology and mentoring.

Vodafone consumer director Matt Williams adds that xone is one of the most successful startup programmes in New Zealand.

“For us, this is all about empowering the next generation of technology businesses in New Zealand, and the numbers show we’re achieving that.  Our 2016 and 2017 start-up companies have achieved amazing things, including roughly $17 million in new investment, over 70 FTE jobs created, around $13 million in revenue and six partnerships and trials with Vodafone,” he says.

“There are some fantastic stories of individual success for our xone companies, including IoTStream, who entered xone in 2016 pre-revenue and now have a pipeline of 10’s of millions. Vodafone works closely with IoTStream as we deliver IoT solutions for our customers.”

The full list of Vodafone xone class of 2018 follows:

Ambit: An enterprise grade chatbot creation platform underpinned by AI and natural language processing designed to deliver 24/7 personalised customer service

Aware Group: Little Bot, an AI based smart data service that extracts the context, sentiment and other relevant information to produce a better customer experience

kin2kin: A family app focused on kids 3 to 13, their parents and grandparents that connects generations

Melodics: A game-like app that uses machine learning to help people learn to play musical instruments

Romer: Curated and crowd-sourced local experience delivery platform that matches unique experiences to users

Sandfly Security: Agentless and automated forensic investigation and intrusion platform for Linux

Surveybot: Online platform that enables any business to create Chatbot surveys for any audience

Trickle: Bar tap management tracking system using IoT to understand beer pouring and reduce wastage

Urigo: Wearable health technology tracking bladder flow using a sensor solution that communicates to a smart phone

Two Christchurch based startups named on international business impact list

14 June 2018. Christchurch New Zealand

Recently named startup company of the year; Banqer has been recognized as being among the top global companies making a positive difference in the world. These companies were selected for creating the most positive overall impact on their customers based off of an independent, comprehensive assessment administered by the US headquartered nonprofit; B Lab.

Banqer was named in the ‘Best For Customers’ list, which includes businesses that earned a Customer score in the top 10 percent of the rigorous B Impact Assessment. The Customer portion of the B Impact Assessment measures the impact a company has on its customers by focusing on whether a company sells products or services that promote public benefit and if those products/services are targeted toward serving underserved populations.

The full assessment measures a company’s impact on its workers, community, customers and environment and is gaining in popularity inline with the growing social enterprise sector. As it stands there is no regulation or structure required for a company to identify as a social enterprise in New Zealand. The B Impact Assessment allows social enterprises a way to opt-into structured self-regulation.

Honorees scoring in the top 10 percent set a gold standard for the high impact that business as a force for good can make on consumers around the world. Banqer made the list thanks to exceptional practices like the inherent social good of their financial education platform, their focus to serve minority communities, and their commitment to develop an ethically proactive workplace.

Banqer was was one of two NZ companies honoured. Ethique, also a Christchurch based startup was named in the Best For Community list. Last year Christchurch hosted the Social Enterprise World forum, Christchurch is also home to the highest concentration of registered B Corporations in New Zealand.

Banqer Co-founder Kendall Flutey commented “I don’t believe business can exist solely through a profit-seeking lense anymore. The companies who are still around and thriving in another couple of decades will have purpose seeking at their core. This is not to say there isn’t tension between profit and purpose, but purpose is still worth pursuing.”

Additional 2018 Best For Customers honorees include AltSchool, Sunrise Banks, and Wetherby Asset Management. The wider lists recognise companies like Patagonia and King Arthur Flour Company.

About Banqer

Banqer is an online financial education platform that enables primary and intermediate students to experience personal finances first-hand in their classroom. Over 67,000 Australasian kids are currently earning classroom income, paying taxes, exploring the property market, enrolling in KiwiSaver and much more as they practice how to manage their money in the safe confines of the classroom. This activity, increasing their financial capability through educational simulation, prepares students for the financial world ahead.


The B-Lab Movement

B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.  Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world and society will enjoy prosperity for all for the long term. Today there are more than 2,400 Certified B Corporations across more than 150 industries and 50 countries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business.

A list of all honorees are featured on B the Change, the digital Medium publication produced by B Lab, at

Technology business leader Mitchell Pham to be celebrated with Kea World Class New Zealand Award

Auckland, New Zealand: Wednesday 30th May, 2018

New Zealand’s most prestigious celebration of individual achievement, the Kea World Class New Zealand (WCNZ) Awards, has today announced six of its 2018 award recipients.

In addition to Pham, this year’s winners include innovator and engineer, Peter Beck; AI trailblazer Mark Sagar; award-winning actor and producer Cliff Curtis; prominent Earth scientist Dr Delwyn Moller; and art world powerhouse Jennifer Flay.

The Supreme Award (won last year by Sir Peter Jackson and Lady Fran Walsh), and Friend of New Zealand Award (won last year by Pippa Lady Blake), will be announced at a Gala Dinner at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre on Thursday 21st June.

Kea Global CEO Craig Donaldson says the Awards are an important opportunity to recognise the very best among New Zealand’s community of Kiwi innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders making an impact on the world stage.

“This year’s recipients are diverse in their fields of influence and expertise, but they share a commitment to excellence which helps to define New Zealand’s global reputation – and made a vast contribution to the country’s social, cultural, scientific and economic development. We’re delighted to acknowledge and celebrate their achievements,” says Donaldson.

Mitchell Pham, a Director of the Augen Software Group in New Zealand and Vietnam, co-founder of the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub, Chair of NZTech and of FinTechNZ, is being recognised for his contribution to the technology sector in New Zealand and NZ-Asia relations.

Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, is being recognised as a pioneer in New Zealand’s space community, including his instrumental role in establishing international treaties and legislation to enable orbital launch capability from New Zealand.

Mark Sagar, CEO and co-founder of Soul Machines, and director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute, is being recognised for his work developing new technologies to humanise artificial intelligence.

Cliff Curtis, founder of Arama Pictures, co-founder of Whenua Films, and multi-award-winning actor, is being recognised for his commitment to indigenous storytelling, including Arama Pictures feature The Dark Horse and short film Ahi Ka.

Dr Delwyn Moller, Director of Research at the Centre for Space Science Technology (Alexandra, NZ) and previously a NASA and Jet Propulsion Lab scientist, is being recognised for her ground-breaking contribution to the development of state-of-the-art earth science technology systems. This includes developing high-resolution radar imaging technology to enable new areas of scientific discovery, and an extensive contribution to our understanding of climate change via ongoing study of ice sheets and glaciers.

And finally, Jennifer Flay, General Director of Paris’ Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) or International Contemporary Art Fair, has been included in recognition of her contribution to the fine arts, and leading the renewal of one of the most prestigious arts events in the world.

Established in 2003, the Awards provide a platform that recognises global success, celebrating Kiwis who are helping to define New Zealand’s international reputation.

Each World Class New Zealand Award winner will receive a Tall Poppy statuette, designed by Weta Workshop co-founder and 2009 Supreme Award winner Sir Richard Taylor.

For more information about the recipients, see below:

Peter Beck

  • Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, an orbital launch company revolutionising access to space for small satellites
  • Peter led a team of engineers to develop the ĀTEA-1 rocket in 2009, a launch that saw Rocket Lab become the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space
  • In 2013 Peter established the Electron orbital launch programme to develop the world’s first fully carbon-composite launch vehicle, powered by the world’s first 3D printed, electric turbopump-fed rocket engine
  • Oversaw the development of the first and only private orbital launch range on the globe, located on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula
  • First successful orbital launch completed in January 2018

Mark Sagar

  • Double Academy Award winner via his previous role as the Special Projects Supervisor at Weta Digital and Sony Pictures Imageworks and developed technology for the characters in blockbusters such as Avatar, King Kong, and Spiderman-2
  • CEO/co-founder of Soul Machines which aims to humanise artificial intelligence
  • Led the development of virtual infant BabyX, brought to life by computational models of the brain and nervous system, which has gained worldwide attention for its pioneering biologically based approach to artificial intelligence
  • Director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute
  • Mark has a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Auckland
  • Was a post-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • His pioneering work in computer-generated faces was awarded Scientific and Engineering Oscars in 2010 and 2011

Cliff Curtis

  • Four-time NZ Film and Television award-winning actor
  • Formed Maori film production company Whenua Films with cousin Ainsley Gardiner – 2004: The pair produced Taika Waititi’s WWII short film Tama Tū (2005), debut feature, geek comedy Eagle vs Shark (2007), and Boy (2010)
  • Founded Arama Pictures (2013): which has produced feature The Dark Horse and short film Ahi Ka, and television series This is Piki
  • Has over 50 credits to date for producing and acting in TV, theatre and film
  • Starred in movies alongside Hollywood legends such as Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Hopkins and George Clooney
  • Starred in AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead alongside Kim Dickens
  • A cast member of the four Avatar sequels written and directed by James Cameron which are due for release starting in 2020

Dr Delwyn Moller

  • Director of Research and the Centre for Space Science Technology, Alexandra, NZ
  • Principal Systems Engineer at Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. (RSS)
  • Joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she worked on radar technology, primarily with a focus on Earth science
  • She has won multiple JPL and NASA awards and was a co-recipient of the prestigious NASA Space Act award for planetary landing radar design
  • Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • M.E degree (Distinction) and B.E. degree (Honors) from the University of Auckland

Mitchell Pham

  • Director of the Augen Software Group in New Zealand and Vietnam
  • Co-founder of the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub – a platform for NZ technology businesses to accelerate presence & engagement in South East Asia
  • Recognised as an Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society, and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum
  • Chair of the NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech)
  • Chair of the NZ Financial Innovation & Technology Association (FinTechNZ)
  • Co-founder of the NZ Health IT Cluster (NZHIT)
  • Co-founder of the Global InsurTech Alliance (GITA)
  • Advisor at the Asia New Zealand Foundation
  • New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) Beachheads Advisor in technology business for South East Asia
  • Trustee of the Auckland Refugee Family Trust (ARFT), and of the Foundation for Social Responsibility NZ (FOStR-NZ)
  • Awarded Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society
  • Awarded Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF)
  • Member of the Ethnic People in Commerce (EPICNZ) network, NZ Asian Leaders (NZAL) forum, and NZ Superdiversity Council
  • Member of the Strategic Alliance Vietnamese Ventures International (SAVVi) network, and an executive of the global Vietnamese diaspora business network (BAOOV)

Jennifer Flay

  • General Director of FIAC, 2010 – present
  • Artistic Director of FIAC, 2003 – 2010
  • Opened Galerie Jennifer Flay, 1990 – 2003
  • Participated actively in two travelling exhibitions by Christian Boltanski, alongside American curators Lynn Gumpert and Mary Jane Jacobs, and European curators Catherine Lampert, Jan Debbaut and Serge Lemoine.
  • Author of authoritative publication: Christian Boltanski, Catalogue – Books, Printed Matter, Ephemera – 1966-1991
  • Member of the Board of Administrators of the Palais de Tokyo art centre (Paris) and the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Beaux Arts (National School of Arts, Paris)
  • Member of the artistic and scientific council of the Manufacture de Sevres (Paris)


About Kea:

Kea is New Zealand’s global network. Kea connects a community of over half a million New Zealanders with each other and provides access to global job opportunities, events and business growth support. Kea connects Kiwis with one another and with home.

It provides businesses and individuals with access to network members who willingly lend their influence, expertise and international connections to help New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses succeed on the world stage.

New Zealand businesses can access this expert assistance, advice, and global insight through Kea Connect.

Each year, Kea celebrates high-achieving Kiwis at the World Class New Zealand Awards held in Auckland.

Have Your Say: Research and development tax incentive

You may be aware of the upcoming changes proposed by the Government in respect of a Research and Development Incentive Scheme, effective from 1 April 2019. Here is the link to the relevant documents released by the Government, including the original discussion document and documents on the transition from Callaghan Innovation Growth Grants. The key changes proposed are outlined at the bottom of this email.

The changes will have an impact on the cash flows of New Zealand start up and growth businesses and it is important that we provide feedback to ensure any changes are designed to achieve the objective of growing the R&D spend in New Zealand. We also envisage that any ambiguity and uncertainty will impact the ability of New Zealand entities to raise capital and have valuation implications.

EY has been working to ensure that the start-up and growth sector is adequately represented in the submission phase of the project. EY’s objective is demonstrate to the government that there is strong interest in the legislation changes from the sector by providing a strong response to their discussion documents. The deadline for submissions is 1 June 2018.

Canterbury Tech members may also with to prepare their own individual submission. EY has prepared a template submission that can easily be adapted by entities that covers what EY believes to be the main issues. The template is designed to be tailored by individual entities to fit their circumstances.

EY are running a couple of workshops that run through the changes in more detail and provides an opportunity to discuss any questions that you may have. These are held at EY offices in Auckland, but there will be an opportunity to dial in remotely.

These are proposed for:

–          Wednesday 23 May at 1pm

–          Tuesday 29 May at 10am

In addition EY is creating a database for future correspondence on R&D matters as they arise.

Our ask of you is: 

  1. Complete a submission. Feel free to use the attached template
  2. Circulate this email encouraging the entities you are associated with to also make a submission
  3. Respond to if you would like to attend one of the sessions (and whether you will attend in person or remotely)
  4. Email with contact details of any parties that would like to receive ongoing communications in respect of the R&D tax incentive scheme

Key aspects of the proposed changes:

–          Replacement of the Callaghan Growth grants with a tax credit of 12.5% based on eligible expenditure for entities doing R&D in New Zealand

–          To be eligible entities must:

o   Be located in New Zealand and be carrying out R&D in New Zealand

o   Satisfy the test of being in business

o   Claim R&D that relates to your business or intended business

o   Have control over R&D activities

o   Bear the financial risks of the R&D activities

o   Effectively own the results of the R&D

–          Minimum eligible R&D expenditure proposed at $100,000

–          R&D would be defined as:

o   Core activities: those conducted using scientific methods that are performed for the purposes of acquiring new knowledge or creating new or improved materials, products, devices, processes and services; and that intended to advance science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty

o   Support activities; those that are wholly or mainly for the purpose of, required for, and integral to, the performing of the activities defined as core activities

–          Provisions for some overseas R&D work

–          Specific defined expenditure is ineligible

–          Current proposals are that the tax credit will be not refundable; i.e. loss making companies will not receive a refund. The current R&D credit tax back for loss making entities will continue in the short term but may be reviewed as part of future policy work

David Winter | Senior Manager | Tax

Ernst & Young Limited

A conversation with David Carter, Chair of Canterbury Tech

In the leadup to Techweek ’18 Christchurch based Seeds Podcast caught up with David Carter about the origins of Canterbury Tech, the annual Tech Summit, what makes Canterbury unique and the future of tech here for the next generation.  This is an extract from a 50 minute podcast interview which also went into David’s early life in South Africa, getting into the tech industry, what makes a good manager and how you hire the right people to join a team.  You can access the interview in most podcast apps by searching for “Seeds” and it is also available at where there are more than 40 other interviews as well.


Seeds Podcast: … so, I’d love to talk about Canterbury Tech now – when did you get involved in that?  Also, can you set the scene for what it is because there will be people listening who don’t live in New Zealand or who live in Auckland or Wellington or other places so maybe set the scene and how you got involved?

David Carter: Canterbury Tech started 15 or 16 years ago where it was a group … who would get together on a Friday – they were all software business owners – and they would just chew the cud and talk about their business problems and basically just support each other.  I think it was probably quite hard in those times they probably all felt like they were unique and facing unique problems but in fact, once they got together they really enjoyed it.  So they started to formalise that a bit more and they came up with the Cluster, came up with a constitution etc, started to have these meetings – monthly meetings and put a committee together all that sort of thing.  So, I got involved about 4 years ago … I had been running the local Microsoft .net user group and that was really my first foray into the whole community aspect of things.  I was invited to talk there and do a presentation and I went there and did this presentation and I was really nervous beforehand but I loved doing it – I really enjoyed it.  So when the user group leader stepped down he said, “do you want to do this”, so I said I would take it on and at the time there were about 50 members and over the next couple of years I grew it to about 500 members and I really enjoyed that building and growing the membership and interacting with the people it was really a lot of fun – it took me about 2 or 3 years to do.  So based on that I was invited to join the committee of Canterbury Tech about 4 years ago – and I was voted on to the Committee and spent two years on the Committee and then had the opportunity to run for Chair, which I did – once again pushing my boundaries, I had never been the Chair of anything, it was the first committee I had been on.  It was daunting, but my Father tells me, “you can always do more – you should always push yourself” – so that was my stretch challenge and I’ve loved it, it’s been a lot of fun over the last two years.

That’s great.  Michael Trengrove, I think he was Chair before you, I interviewed him about Code Club which is one of the things he is involved in – it was interesting talking with him … and one of the things in that interview if people want to listen in, we talked a bit about the Canterbury Tech event that you run every year, can you just explain a little about that as well?

Yea, I think you are referring to the Canterbury Tech Summit. Our remit is really to connect, grow and inspire Canterbury companies.  It used to be Software companies but now it is Tech companies as that line between technology and software has become blurred over time so we just opened up the membership more. So currently we have a couple of hundred corporate members and a couple of hundred individual members.  We cater for those members by having a monthly event which is typically at a company in Christchurch and we put on two speakers – a business and a technical speaker – and we have drinks and networking etc.  On top of that we have this annual event which is the largest technology event in the South Island.  That is run every year and we get speakers from all over the world. The idea is once again to inspire and try to help educate and give people an opportunity to network as well.  So that is every year at the Air Force Museum at the moment. We are kind of limited by venue size and space available at the moment so it is limited to about 800 people but we get world class speakers and we have a number of streams of those speakers throughout the day.

Yeah it is a great event – I have been the last two years and really enjoyed it.  Like you say, people flying in from all over the world flying in to present on their specialty area which is amazing.  So have you seen that event grow – like if we dial back to when you first started getting involved has it grown or pretty steady?

It has grown a wee bit, I think when I first came it was about 500 people and it has grown to about 800 people.  I think when we actually get the new centre online where we can host these types of events which is currently an events centre that is being built, we will then have to make the decision about whether we try to expand this to 2-3,000 people or do we keep it the size it is, but that is a decision we will have to make.

Oh, that’s good.  If I was talking to someone in a city or region who was involved in technology and promoting it, they would probably say that their region or their city was uniquely different and probably that it was world class.  I think, my feeling living here in Christchurch and Canterbury is that there is a lot happening.  Can you just set the scene in terms of the culture and what is going on from a business point of view?

Christchurch and Canterbury is the second largest tech sector in New Zealand now.  I try and get that into every conversation I have with someone now because I think it is so important and so amazing that we realise that.  You know, that we are ahead of Wellington that has traditionally had Xero and all the Government work – we are actually larger than them.  We have an amazing ecosystem – so we have really great grassroots support for entrepreneurs and innovators coming through and the City Council is all behind that and they want us to be seen as an innovation hub with the like of self-driving cars and flying taxis and all that sort of stuff.  Which is great.  I think from the perspective of putting Christchurch on the map it makes great press stories and so that is very, very important.  But it is not just about that innovation it is also that we have some very established companies in that mid to larger size – companies that have been around for many, many years and are world class leaders in what they do – we have companies doing amazing things all over the world.  I don’t think it is any coincidence that a lot of American companies have their software development headquarters in Christchurch and I think it is important to appreciate that.  Part of the reason is that we have got great tertiaries – we have got the University, we have got Ara, which is fantastic and also it is just a great place to live, and it is actually affordable, and it doesn’t take an hour to drive to work.  So we have got all these environmental and physical attributes on top of having great software companies with great jobs.  So I am very positive about Christchurch and where we are going to go.  We just need to tell the story…

So just in terms of telling that story can we dive a little bit deeper in terms of examples of companies that are based here that people may not even have realised?

A great example the other day was Telogis, and they have been sold to Verizon and they are Christchurch grown and bred. They did work around routing software for delivery companies and became a world leader in what they do.   Sold to Verizon and did remarkably well.  Sunguard was another example of a company which did financial software which was sold to FIS and various other companies over time.  But once again that was a home bred success story.  Companies like diligent board books who listed in the US and that was grown out of Canterbury.  Cequent Projects who were Leapfrog Geo, doing amazing stuff in the Geo space and they are going really well.  Companies like Orion Health in the medical space.  There are so many examples and there will be so many more that I don’t even know about – companies in people’s garages turning over hundreds of millions of dollars that we don’t even know about…

Staying under the radar.  I think it is fascinating and I love to trace the history of movements and how things start.  And I think in Christchurch – Canterbury – there is actually a legacy if you back even much further and I am thinking in particular about Sir Angus Tait and Tait Communications which has for decades has been a very large company and I think that it actually – because it has employed many people who have gone on to have their own start-ups.  It’s just fascinating think – I am researching his life which is why I have this special interest but he came back from World War II and had this special interest in radios and started to build these ways to communicate, you know, in taxis – and this is like disruptive technology of its day because there weren’t really handsets in taxis or ways of communicating and in the 1950s he is there pushing the boundaries based here in Christchurch.  Isn’t that fascinating you know, like literally 70 years ago he is working away and I just wonder if people like that – I am sure there are other examples – were kind of becoming models and setting the patterns for what we are now seeing, generations that have learned from people like that.

Absolutely.  And I think Kiwis are very good at disruption and thinking outside the square and coming up with new ways of approaching things.  And that is something that we need to get into our kids as well.  I really believe that the future of Christchurch and Canterbury is around Tech.  We are doing this pivot from being a typical agricultural based economy with farming, with dairy, with tourism – making use of our natural resources.  Unfortunately that is limited with what you can do there – it is not scalable.  So Tech is the obvious answer to that as a scalable future for Christchurch.  So I think we need to encourage our kids and more importantly their parents, to understand that, and to understand that Tech is I believe a way forward for them to have a prosperous future.  And Tech is not – there is this mind-set that Tech is about teenage boys sitting in a corner playing on a laptop.  That is not what it is, there are so many different avenues into Tech – there is the marketing of Tech, there is design, there is graphic design, yes there is programming, there is project management – there are so many different aspects to it that people can fit into.  We need to get that into schools and we really need to get kids and their parents understanding that.  And part of that is telling the story because even parents locally don’t know about these success stories and they don’t know that technology is this great pathway for their kids so that is part of the challenge.

Which is why something that I mentioned before like code club – teaching primary school kids to code.  That is kind of that mind-set shift isn’t it.

Oh absolutely, I actually went into my daughter’s school and taught code club for a semester because I wanted to get it into the school and no one was going to do it.  Unfortunately I discovered that I am not very well suited to teaching Children – I probably would have killed one of them if I had stayed much longer!

That would have been counterproductive!

So yea, I stopped that but I saw the results over the semester or two that I spent there – the kids picked it up so quickly and the loved it.  And their parents got it as well – and that is one of the most important things – they saw their kids programming and they went, “hey, my kid can do it”.

Seeds is a podcast which has more than 40 episodes released and a new one each Tuesday talking with inspiring people making a positive impact with their lives. You can access the interview in most podcast apps by searching for “Seeds” and it is also available at


Showcasing New Zealand Tech

Join a group of New Zealand Tech Alliance communities to celebrate the launch of the AI Forum’s research report, Artificial Intelligence: Shaping a Future New Zealand. Executive Director, Ben Reid will discuss key highlights, including the potential impact and opportunities for New Zealand. FinTechNZ’s Executive Director, James Brown will discuss the growth of the FinTech space and what FinTechNZ are planning over the next year.

Plus,    hear the latest news from the IoT AllianceEdTechNZTechWomen and more. NZTech CEO, Graeme Muller will also share an update and explore the vision for New Zealand as a digital nation.

Date: Thursday 17th May
5.00pm – 7.00pm
Location:  Canterbury Club Inc, 129 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch

Chch tech brains team up to solve city’s challenges in hackathon

This article is supplied by LEW KAI PING from BIZEDGE, MARCH 20, 2018

Christchurch is one step closer to solutions for the city’s future challenges thanks to a 48-hour hackathon, hosted by Ministry of Awesome, which brought the best and brightest tech minds in Canterbury together at Epic Innovation Campus from March 16 to March 18.

Powered by Christchurch City Council and Canterbury Tech, over 50 tech workers and community volunteers participated in Future City Activator, with the youngest just 13 years old.

Together with leaders from the public sector they worked in groups under high pressure to create big ideas to some of the city’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.

Canterbury tech chairman David Carter says, “Events such as Future City Activator empowers members of our community to have a voice in the future of the city and participate in solving real-world problems that affect us all.”

During the hackathon, teams addressed five issues ranging from transport and housing to land, water, mental health and biodiversity.

Team WaiWatch was announced the overall winner for their innovative solution to the problem of inefficient and high volume residential water use which is the most per person in New Zealand.

WaiWatch suggested a mobile app and smart sensors on each of Christchurch’s household water meters for data collection – with the data being used by City Council and consumers to monitor their own water usage.

“WaiWatch takes Christchurch water monitoring into the 21st century,” Christchurch City Council sustainability principle advisor Tony Moore says.

“It is vital that we can accurately measure water use so we can better manage this precious resource for the future.”

“WaiWatch delivers an innovative, yet simple idea that has the potential to benefit every household and business in the region. Christchurch and Canterbury needs to watch its water.”

WaiWatch will now go through a formal application for potential funding from Christchurch City Council’s Innovation and Sustainability Fund to help bring their idea to life.

Other creative solutions included:

  • an online platform to put Cantabrians in touch with each other as a solution to social isolation
  • a mobile app that helps house owners locate and report on housing quality issues, such as drafts and mold, and easy to implement solutions
  • a mobile app that supports front line professionals to direct homeless people to the right services
  • a social bike transport platform to encourage bike usage amongst company employees
  • a platform that enables people to understand their carbon footprint and incentives them to choose greener transportation option
  • software to enable bike-sharing, gather data and keep the city free from ‘wandering’ bikes

The solutions demonstrate that Christchurch’s tech and innovation community is world class according to Ministry of Awesome CEO Marian Johnson.

“Christchurch is the second largest exporter of tech in New Zealand.

“Events like Future City Activator are a great way to get those powerful brains and this close-knit community working collaboratively to support the city they love,” Johnson says.

“The result of the hackathon are tangible ideas that can make a significant contribution to Christchurch.”

The five issues Future City Activator Addressed were:

Land and Water

  • Canterbury has the highest water use per person in NZ and a drying climate
  • Local rivers and streams are polluted


  • New Zealand has lost most of its native plants and animals – we want to “restore the dawn chorus” (people need to plant for birds / biodiversity) and manage pests

Social Isolation

  • Canterbury has the highest youth suicide rate in the world because of high levels of social isolation and poor coverage of support services
  • Growing rates of social isolation especially for elderly – communities to be more connected

Transport Education

  • At 18 tonnes per person, NZ has one of the highest carbon footprints per person in the world
  • 65% of the cities’ carbon footprint is from transport despite cycleways and bus infrastructure – New Zealand needs to find ways to get we need to get people out of cars (bus, bike, walk or sharing)


  • Highest asthma rate in the world (poorly heated, cold damp homes)
  • Highest winter mortality rate in the world (1600 per year), 4 times the number of road deaths (old and young die in cold damp homes over winter)

Social Enterprise – in New Zealand & around the world.

Our monthly speaker blog series picks up on themes that were discussed at our Cluster networking events. This month Steven Moe shares his expertise in Social Enterprise. For your free copy of the Social Enterprise in New Zealand handbook, please contact Steven.

One of the interesting things about being involved in a relatively new sector like social enterprise is that there are often assumptions about what is being talked about. This article deconstructs one of the most commonly misunderstood points – what actually is a “social enterprise”?  In doing this there are a lot of concepts and ideas that will be thrown on to the table – some of them contradictory – but it is hoped that by doing this there will be a clearer understanding about the issues involved and that will foster better discussion and understanding.

The term “social enterprise” will likely have different meanings for different people, depending on the background and experience of the person hearing that term for the first time.  As one objective reference point outside of New Zealand, it is useful to see how the European Social Enterprise Law Association defined it in their paper, “Developing legal systems which support social enterprise growth”.  They said there were three key elements:

entrepreneurial dimension: engagement in continuous economic activity;
social dimension: primary and explicitly social purpose; and
governance dimension: mechanisms to ensure priority of social purpose.

They conclude that a good definition is: “an autonomous organisation that combines a social purpose with entrepreneurial activity“. It is interesting in this definition that there is no mention of the organisation being exclusively not for profit or for profit.

Canada has many similarities to New Zealand, so it is good to look at some of the thinking going on in that jurisdiction. The Canadian Community Economic Development Network includes a description on their website (  It gives a slightly different angle with more of an emphasis on the non-profit nature:  “The term “social enterprise” is used to refer to business ventures operated by non-profits, whether they are societies, charities, or co-operatives. These businesses sell goods or provide services in the market for the purpose of creating a blended return on investment, both financial and social. Their profits are returned to the business or to a social purpose, rather than maximizing profits to shareholders.”  It goes on to say: “Others use a broader definition that includes privately owned ventures that have a very strong blended financial and socially responsible return on investment.

Closer to home, Akina ( has been doing a great job and worked for years to promote social enterprises in New Zealand.  The definition they put forward on their website seems to focus more on a distinction between an entity which is “for profit” and one which is “for purpose”.  They summarise this down to: “Social enterprises are purpose-driven organisations that trade to deliver social and environmental impact”.

All these definitions are helpful and, focussing on the point of difference, it comes down to some part of the entity being involved in an aspect that is more than just the traditional goal of making money for shareholders. But there is clearly a spectrum ranging from “self focussed” to “other focussed” and it is worth asking at what point an organisation crosses over and can be given the label of a social enterprise.  For example, is there a certain percentage of “good” that they need to be involved in – and how is that defined?  How do you reconcile this focus on a “purpose” with the fact that simply providing employment for people is very important as that helps individuals provide for their families and communities to thrive.  Where is the cut-off point?

Turning to that idea of a spectrum on which different legal forms of entity sit, it can perhaps be described like this – with some overly broad characterisations thrown in as headings to make the point.

Really ‘good’
Not for profit – these are usually traditional charities and do not exist to create a profit but instead help disadvantaged or others.

Social enterprises – these have community purposes at their heart but operate as businesses and do make profits that support their purpose.

Pretty ‘good’
Businesses which donate – these are companies focus on profits but do set aside a proportion of their profits for some community purpose as well.

Not as ‘good’
Profit focussed companies – these have no charitable or community purpose (except perhaps a token gift to disaster relief from time to time).

Is such an analysis really fair? It seems to overly weight the “goodness” of some organisations over others.  There is a danger of going too far either way.  Obviously the above is a really crude analysis, but it has been done through certain lenses.  As mentioned above, the fact that an organisation offers employment to staff and contributes some product surely has immense positive value.  So the challenging point is perhaps to take these lenses off and not to think in these sorts of terms at all.  Instead, work out how to encourage all organisations to begin to take on board some of the concepts underlying social enterprise motivations.  Even a “for profit” company could switch its sourcing of products and services in order to help some social enterprises become economically viable.  How do you increase engagement with such companies, so it is not just left to “social enterprises” to be the ones who are seen to have some responsibility in this area?

One example of a label which some companies are applying for to show where they fit on the spectrum is “B Corporations”.  It is worth describing them in some detail as it is another dimension to consider.  The B stands for “Benefit” and it involves a certification system for companies which meet certain criteria that show they have a focus on more than just profits.  B Corporations are certified by B Lab which is a not for profit organisation. Probably the most famous example of a company which has done this is Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  The B Corporation website says: “B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems”.  To learn more about this have a look here:

When I first became involved in this sector I was confused by the terms and concepts so I hope this article will help to explain some of the things to consider regarding what a “social enterprise” actually is. The great part is that this is a growing and evolving area so it is actually possible to be part of the debate and even shape what happens next.  In a New Zealand context it will be important to look at all the different definitions and discussions overseas and use that as a basis for constructive dialogue.  This article has provided an overview of some of the key issues with the purpose of enabling a more informed discussion.

Steven Moe is a Senior Associate at Parry Field and brings a different perspective having returned to NZ after 12 years overseas.  He loves working in the charitable sector as it can make a real impact for good for many people.  Steven studied at Canterbury University and spent more than a decade at international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright in Tokyo (4 years), London (3 years) and Sydney (4 years).  Before that he spent 3 years in Wellington at a national firm.  He recently spoke at the Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand annual conference in Melbourne about Social Enterprises. For more info visit: