What STEM talent shortage?

When Thor and Alan first met at the Canterbury Innovation Incubator in 2009, they had no idea they were soon to be co-founders in a tech venture that would disrupt the billion dollar English testing industry. Six years later, however, their common network in the Canterbury Tech cluster brought them back together again and – after some matchmaking (and funding) by powerHouse Ventures, – Fluent Scientific was born.

Immediately, they spotted a gaping hole in the English language testing industry. There are many products focused on English language testing for academic purposes but no proven product suited for the career market. This means that, with over 2 billion people in the world learning English by 2018, there is no way for recruiter to efficiently select candidates with competent English communication skills. Enter FluentIQ Test Center – the world’s first completely automated, cost efficient, and accurate English assessment product built especially for global job seekers and their recruitment and hiring professionals.

Many recruiters will get as many as 60% of their job applicants from applicants who are non-native English speakers. But very few of these applicants are ever seriously considered despite their impressive experience and skills. This results in vast amounts of global talent and experience wasted and Fluent aims to change this. As Jessica Lin, Fluent’s Chief Scientist, says “A name and an accent are part of a person’s unique identity, they don’t impact ability or performance. FluentIQ removes fear of communication barriers thereby promoting a more efficient and transparent selection process.” Since teaming up in 2015, the three founders have encountered their own share of twists and pivots. The first version of the test platform was packaged up as a diagnostic tool for international students entering NZ tertiary programmes. Despite encouraging early traction, it quickly became apparent that – unless students were “forced” to use the product, only the rare A+ student would bother. Then came that “Aha!” moment when – after a sleepless weekend in mid-December 2016 – Alan and the team put the whole diagnostic project on ice and refocused.

Their mission: deliver the best automated testing platform for English language communication and leave all the frills behind. That refocus has paid off well and FluentIQ Test Center went live in February 2017. Immediately came the industry early adopters who demonstrated that Fluent had found its sweet spot with global recruiters. Integrations with well known recruitment tools such as Job Adder – an innovator in the applicant tracking system (ATS) space are currently in the works. The integration with JobAdder means that 2,000 global recruiters will be able to seamlessly request that applicants supply FluentIQ Test Center scores. Hard to find technology talent and their recruiters are the initial customer focus for Fluent Scientific with the initial focus for traction is Australia and New Zealand and then on to the APAC region. In the meantime, you can find the Fluent team happily ensconced in their Central City premises in the Ministry of Awesome + building on Madras in the heart of the newly bustling innovation precinct. All three founders see Christchurch as their short, medium, and long term home. As Alan Cox, Fluent’s CEO, puts it: “There’s an amazing tech community here and Christchurch is becoming even more attractive to top quality global talent. I have every belief that Fluent can grow into a major global business with operations right here in Christchurch. That would be a dream come true for me.”

As a member of the Canterbury Tech community, we encourage you to trial FluentIQ Test Center as part of your essential recruitment tool kit. For a demo and some free test keys, get in touch with andy@fluentscientific.com and he’ll sort you out.

 

 

Demystifying the Series A & B Investment Decision

Have you ever wondered how we (venture/growth capital investors, and specifically, Movac) come to the decision on whether to invest or not?
Well, we want to demystify the Series A and B investment decision process, and as part of Techweek NZ (8-14 May) are hosting events in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch in our attempts to do this. This is the first time we’re publicly lifting the hood on what Movac does internally!
For growth companies, this is your chance to see why we ask for certain information, the analysis we produce internally, and get a heads up about the process to help put yourself in the best position possible to effectively raise a Series A or B round.
This is also a great chance for other investors to see how your due diligence process compares to ours, and if it asks the right questions (or at least the ones that we do!).
Ticket links for each centre are below. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Young Enterprise Scheme, to help them continue the great work they do to empower Kiwi students for enterprise. Come along and get another viewpoint.

Trineo a great example of post-quake success

April 4, 2017

Photo – Trineo chief executive and co-founder, Abhinav Keswani and chief operations officer and co-founder Dan Fowlie.

Growing Christchurch software development company Trineo has moved back to the city for the first time since the 2011 earthquakes which inadvertently steered them in a new direction, resulting in huge business growth and international success.

Trineo was a small business with only six staff when the February 22 earthquake unexpectedly caused disruption to their Madras Street office. Since then the company has conquered the international market by expanding to Australia and the United States, twice been listed among the Deloitte Fast 50 and is ranked 320 in the 2016 Asia Pacific Technology Fast 500.

Co-founder and chief operations officer Dan Fowlie says employees’ homes and personal lives were turned upside down by the earthquake and while their New Zealand business continued, the earthquakes steered Trineo down an unexpected path.

“Our chief executive and co-founder, Abhinav Keswani, had to cope with a badly damaged family home and his family moved temporarily to live with relatives in Sydney.

“Over the next few months and with the success of securing clients in Australia, our Australian company Trineo Pty was established. Trineo’s reputation grew along with the business and two years later Trineo Inc was established in the United States where Keswani now resides.

“We have made things work for us – and most importantly for our clients – because Trineo assists clients to drive their customer acquisition and retention strategies, and use digital technologies to open new doors to their suppliers and customers,” Fowlie says.

Trineo specialises in integrated customer relationship management (CRM), specifically Salesforce and bespoke cloud software development. They are experts at developing enterprise-level application programming interfaces (APIs), managing identity and delivering a variety of web or mobile enabled bespoke applications.

Fowlie says Trineo’s expertise in these and other areas is recognised by their major clients who rely on them to provide impetus for greater business innovation and technological delivery than they can achieve with their internal teams.

“We deliver in a reliable, cost-effective fashion and prove our worth to our clients on every engagement. Trineo has secured significant clients like Fonterra and Fulton Hogan and our reputation is growing internationally with clients like Clear Channel Outdoor, Intrawest and Amaysim experiencing the benefits of our innovations,” Fowlie says.

Trineo moved 22 employees and contractors into their new High Street office location in Christchurch’s innovation precinct recently and they are proud to be back where it all began.

“The city core is really starting to feel like an inner city again with the hustle and bustle of a busy CBD taking shape around High St where our building is nearing completion. More tenants are moving in and the surrounding area is filling up with cafes, bars and restaurants.

“It is so positive for Trineo to be back and we are excited to be part of Christchurch’s hub of innovation. The location provides exposure and proximity to working alongside other like-minded local businesses in the precinct.

“We feel a sense of pride in having started as a very small business in 2007, in a tiny office in High St, and now to be back in the same area as a medium sized employer in the Canterbury tech sector and part of a global company operating in NZ, Australia and the US,” Fowlie says.

Canterbury Tech is at the heart of our thriving tech sector and we take great pride in the success of our member organisations – share your stories with us and we will shout it from the roof tops.  

SQL Saturday South Island

SQL Saturday South Island is on Saturday April 8th at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

 

A free training event for Microsoft Data Platform professionals and those wanting to learn about SQL Server, Business Intelligence and Analytics.

 

 

Our aim is to:

  1. Encourage increased membership for the local user groups
  2. Provide local SQL Server professionals with excellent training and networking opportunities
  3. Help develop, grow, and encourage new speakers

This year we have 4 streams – which comprise 20 speakers.

Those speakers are made up of 10 Microsoft MVPs and two Microsoft Certified Masters.

If you’re interested then please head along to the SQL Saturday site and register – we have four tracks running – and for the first time ever – we have 20 speakers so we think that there is something for everybody there.

1 from Saudi Arabia

1 from Singapore

2 from Brisbane, Australia

2 from Sydney, Australia

2 from Melbourne, Australia

1 from Adelaide, Australia

3 from Auckland, NZ

3 from Wellington, NZ

1 from Nelson, NZ

4 from Christchurch, NZ

Additionally, we have managed to secure the services of two internationally recognised SQL Server and Power BI experts to conduct two full pre-cons on Friday 7th April.
Reza Rad (t | b) will be running a Power BI session – this is one that Reza has conducted around the world to rave reviews and we are extremely lucky that he is going to be running this in Christchurch. Register here.

Warwick Rudd (t | b) will be running a more DBA focused session – this is a precon that is based on the many things Warwick has seen in his extensive usage of SQL Server and if you’re looking to use Availability Groups or DR in general this is a great session to go along to. Register here.

 
SQL South Island is a free event – thanks again to our sponsors – and we really hope you will join us for a day of training and networking. Our speakers who have travelled from afar as Singapore are here to teach you some awesome things about all things related to the Data Platform.

Check out the event schedule.

Register.   It’s is vitally important that you register as this year we are putting on a free lunch so we need to know numbers for catering.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday 8th April 2017.

Electric & Recyclable Car

Canterbury University team charged for their world-first electric eco-car marathon in recyclable car

A group of Canterbury University students have created what they believe to be a world first – a fully recyclable electric car.

The little one-person, one-wheel drive car is undergoing final testing in Christchurch before being shipped to Singapore to compete in a global vehicle economy competition called the Shell Eco-Marathon.

Every year as many as 5000 students from universities and technical institutes compete in regional competitions in Asia, Europe and USA. The idea behind the competition is for the students to design, build and then drive the most fuel-efficient car.

The Kiwi team will compete against 100 other teams in the Asian regional competition from March 16, and the successful teams will then progress to the world finals in London in June.

This is the first time a New Zealand team has competed in the eco-marathon in its 69-year history, said team leader Reuben Audley, a final year mechatronics student.

“Up until now none of our team of eight knew much more about cars other than how to change a lightbulb,” he said during a final testing display at Wigram.

“Maybe that’s why we didn’t want to go down the same old route in finding vehicle economy solutions. We also wanted our car to be recyclable. So we’ve made our car entirely out of vacuum-formed plastic, which we believe to be a world first.”

Testing of the little 130kg car, which produces up to 5kW of power from its battery pack and does up to 40kmh, has already shown it to be a potential winner.

In the last eco-marathon the winning electric car achieved an energy consumption of 76 kilometres per kilowatt hour over the competition’s set distance of 12km. But in testing so far the New Zealand car has already achieved 105km per kilowatt hour. And the team is still learning, student and “chief pilot” Frank Sullivan said. “What you have to do is speed up and then coast, and when you are coasting you can regenerate the battery. But we’re still learning the best ways to do this,” he said.

The whole point behind the eco-marathon is to inspire engineers of the future to turn into reality their visions of sustainability and energy efficiency, said the chairman of Shell New Zealand, Rob Jager. “We’ve been hoping for some time that a New Zealand team would participate in this competition”.

“We’re delighted that this group of young people from Canterbury University have taken up the challenge.”

Full article.

Ara first in world to use virtual reality for X-ray training

Monday, 6 March 2017, 2:02 pm
Press Release: Ara Institute

As part of its commitment to contemporary learning environments and delivery, virtual reality training software is being introduced at Ara Institute of Canterbury as a game changer for the medical imaging industry here and internationally.

Students at Ara will be the first in the world to learn to take X-rays with Virtual Medical Coaching (VMC), ground-breaking technology that provides students with a safe, radiation-free environment to perfect their X-ray technique.

“Practical experience is core to our approach to training at Ara, and this will be a giant leap for medical imaging education,” Head of Nursing and Human Services at Ara, Dr Cathy Andrew, says. “We are very pleased to be able to offer our students world leading technology that will help them to develop and refine the skills that are directly relatable to the jobs they will go into. This puts Ara graduates at the forefront of radiography training internationally.”

Ara will be the first to adopt VMC technology, which was developed by James Hayes, who also lectures in Medical Imaging at Ara, to improve students’ training experience and skills development. Interest from overseas has included Harvard University.

VMC is such a significant development because it mimicks real patients and gives students the opportunity to experiment, make mistakes and learn from them. Medical imaging students around the world currently use decommissioned X-ray units and plastic body parts for training.

“In traditional training, students can’t test different angles of the foot, for example, and expose a patient to three or more X-rays in a row. With this training software, they can find out what happens if they move the foot and what the outcome will be,” Hayes says.
“Ara graduates will now come into the job technically competent on modern machines and with the knowledge and virtual experience to take more complex x-rays,” he says.

Medical Imaging at Ara students will practice their X-ray skills using virtual reality headgear and controllers. The technology will be introduced in semester one.

VMC is coupled with an adaptive e-learning platform, which Ara is also the first to implement. This software adapts based on students’ answers to questions, quickly identifying their strengths and weaknesses. It gives lecturers access to data in order to adjust their course content to meet the needs of individual students.

“As a student, you can’t fail. You only learn. What’s more, as teachers, we get data that helps us tailor our lectures and tutorials to suit. It’s basically everything I’ve ever wanted since I started teaching 10 years ago,” Hayes says.

Equality attracts top tech talent

Christchurch – Leading Australasian eCommerce provider eStar says businesses that practise diversity and equality have a huge competitive edge when it comes to employing top talent and maintaining a productive and engaged workforce.

As New Zealand’s fastest growing sector and third largest exporter, tech employs five percent of the workforce and has the highest paid employees than all other sectors on average.

The number of software developers employed in New Zealand doubled between 2006-2013 and growth is expected to continue to around 5.2 percent a year until 2020.

Based in Christchurch and Melbourne, eStar is one of New Zealand’s largest and growing IT companies employing more than 70 people. Its workforce has increased by a third in the last 18 months and represents 17 different cultural backgrounds.

eStar chief operations officer Kevin Rowland says the company focuses on having the right people in the right role and building a culture that is welcoming and inclusive.

“Four of our back-end developers are from India and we have a diverse workforce of women from Brazil, Hong Kong, Egypt, Philippines, Germany and Sri Lanka, as well as loads of Kiwis.

“Employing people from diverse backgrounds provides significant opportunities for us to leverage engagement, innovation, productivity and improve service to our clients,” Rowland says.

Women take up 23 percent of tech roles in New Zealand but at eStar, 41 percent of employees are women and this figure is expected to increase.

Three of the four senior tech leads at eStar are women, all of whom have been promoted from within the company. The client support and client delivery managers are female and eStar has women in a range of roles including developers, web designers, scrum masters, project managers, product owners, solutions consultants and client support, among others.

Rowland says eStar’s employee remuneration is based on skills and value and they treat everyone equally.

“Remuneration has nothing to do with gender or culture. It makes no difference whether people are male or female, it’s all about recruiting the right person for the job who has the right skills and experience.

“In the last two years at eStar we have placed a big focus on how we all work together and this has resulted in remarkable employee engagement results. Having a more engaged team has had a direct impact on employee turnover, so that our retention for the current year is 87.85 percent, well above industry average.

“Having engaged and satisfied people in the tech business is so important as we are all competing for the top talent.”

eStar is actively involved with various projects to encourage more young Kiwis into tech careers such as Shadow Tech Day, ITP TechHub and Futureintech.

About eStar

eStar is Australasia’s leading specialist eCommerce solutions provider, delivering outstanding experiences with some of the region’s best brands, through a combination of thought leadership, user experience, development, design and partners. Clients include Country Road, Briscoe Group, Swanndri and Smiths City Group, amongst many others.

For further information contact Make Lemonade news editor Janelle Blythe on 021 662 138.

FinTechNZ Launch – Christchurch

NZTech, in association with Augen Software Group, invites you to the launch of FinTechNZ.

Christchurch: Tuesday 7 February, 4:00pm-5:30pm, Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, 57 Kilmore St, Christchurch Central

Register here

(The launch is just before our Canterbury Tech Monthly Event)

The New Zealand Financial Innovation and Technology Association (FinTechNZ) is being established in response to the call for action from the financial services and technology innovation community, to come together, provide a collaborative voice, create connections, increase knowledge, support international growth and influence policy impacting our ecosystem.

With the support of the New Zealand Technology Industry Association (NZTech), FinTechNZ brings together a diverse range of innovators from across the financial services industry, to become the key contributors in actively shaping and driving the FinTech revolution.
Our purpose is to enable those businesses who are engaged at the forefront of financial innovation and technology development to connect with each other, in order to collaborate, provide thought leadership, seize opportunities, grow the whole sector together, and engage New Zealand to make a difference and to be relevant in the global FinTech community.

Please join us to celebrate the launch of FinTechNZ and contribute your thoughts on:
– What you see as New Zealand’s FinTech challenges and opportunities, from the perspective of your own business;
– How you would like to see FinTechNZ make a difference, both for you as well as for New Zealand.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Mitchell Pham
Chair – NZTech Board
Chair – FinTechNZ Core Working Group

Techweek to be biggest ever tech event in NZ

Techweek’17, May 6 to 14 next year, will be the biggest week New Zealand has ever seen or experienced in technology.

techweek_rev_slider_image_smaller-e1481486736678Techweek will help the push by NZTech for New Zealand to become a digital nation and to demonstrate our tech pedigree to the world.

More than 100 events will take place all over the country, in businesses and schools with hackathons, innovative tech debates, hands-on experiential events, livestreams and awards ceremonies.

Events are catering to a wide variety of audiences including schools, non-tech people, tech-heads, startup founders, international and local investors, business leaders and political figures.

Events will include tech business heavyweights and leading New Zealand business people who are already successful on the global stage. At the other end of the scale we will see local communities and schools experimenting with technology to inspire the next generation.

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says Techweek will not just be in cities and main centres but also the rural community. The major Farming 2020 event will be one of the showcase events because farming and primary industries are so important to New Zealand’s export sector.

“Agtech is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing, most exciting innovation sectors. It’s an area where we can truly say we’re leading the world. Farming 2020 will showcase the best and most inventive NZ Agtech.

“Another event will be the Talking Tech Everywhere podcast where popular tech podcast, Access Granted, will take to the road for Techweek’17. It will travel the length of the country over the course of the week, interviewing tech founders, inventors and tech industry personalities.

“We will have many other major events embracing the academic and manufacturing communities, the design sector, health and education sectors bringing communities together to share ideas and experience on how they are making the most of tech and grow cool tech companies.

“Blockchain was the hot topic of 2016. Blockchain is named after the way it works. Each bit of data, which could be a money transfer or real estate contract, is encrypted using blockchain software.
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“In Techweek next May we will be talking about how blockchain technology can be used to disrupt and re-imagine education and health systems. One of the world’s leading authorities on Blockchain, New Zealander Mark Pascall, will host a blockchain event.

“Blockchain is software that forms a presumably unhackable system for transactions. That’s because it is hosted on thousands of computers around the world, not just one server. Every individual system would need to be broken simultaneously so this new system provides a novel new way to conduct safe transactions without the need of a middle man,” Muller says.

NZTech, the national representative group for Kiwi tech companies, has reached an important milestone with substantial expansion in New Zealand’s fastest growing and third largest export earner.

NZTech represents more than 400 organisations in a tech sector with 100,000 jobs and growth throughout New Zealand making up eight percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and contributing over $6.3 billion in exports.

“Our Techweek goal is to stimulate an environment where technology provides important productivity and economic benefits for New Zealand.

“Where people explore ways to harness technology to make New Zealand a better place for future generations and to showcase our success stories to the world so we are encouraging communities and companies to put on events in Techweek via our expressions of interest page at Techweek.co.nz,” Muller says.

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2017 Cluster Committee Announced

The 2016 Canterbury Tech AGM and Quiz was held at the Cargo Bar on Tuesday 6th December.

20161206_173224A big thank you to our Chair, Michael Trengrove, and our Treasurer, Jason Hoseason, for their dedication to the Cluster over the years. We bid them farewell.

2017 Committee

Ian Wells was re-elected and we welcome Vaughn Luckman and Richard Holstein.

Geoff Brash GBJ
Ian Wells Venduco
David Carter Stratos
Heidi Griffiths Crescent Recruitment
Chris Clarke Stratigence
Andy Poulsen Farrow Jamieson
Damian Brown Assurity
Vaughn Luckman Vaughan Luckman Consulting
Richard Holstein Digital Journey
Mandeep Kaur Estar
Ex Officio Rep Helen Shorthouse CDC
Ex Officio Rep Kate Ross NZTE