Whilst we have lots of people with ideas in New Zealand, the difference in taking an idea, working out the path to value, and turning it into a high-growth potential business is a significant gap, especially in a future that will have technology at its heart.
Startups need entrepreneurial, and particularly tech-savvy talent, which are not useful just to startups, but to the future economy as a whole. It's clear that the digital economy is here to stay, so whilst we're starting to produce more digitally-savvy graduates and employees, let's take the opportunity to fill them full of entrepreneurial thinking to allow them to not just have the ideas of the future, but the ability to execute on them too.
Whilst it'll take time to organically build our internal capability, the most useful pool of this talent exists in more entrepreneurially-dense and active startups hubs around the world. How do we make it so easy for those people to join or start a startup in NZ that we can use them to upskill our own people in the short term, whilst we build up the longer-term capability over time?
Whilst we've already done a lot to encourage the growth of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand, it is ultimately sub-scale, because New Zealand is sub-scale. Many in the startup community feel that we have reached the limits of our own efforts, existing primarily on sponsorship, sweat equity, and goodwill, and now risk cannibalizing each other's efforts without further top-down support and intevention.
Therefore, the Start NZ Up action plan consists of a number of intentionally high-level policy-level recommendations, which, if thoughtfully impemented, would have significant impact on the development of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand. The specific recommendations for this goal are presented below.
Incentivise overseas tech workers to join a startup in NZ by providing relocation costs, and visas to support external talent with deep startup expertise and networks coming into NZ.
Create a cost-of-living allowance to counteract the high-cost of living for foreign skilled workers. This will help incentivise local startups to attract the best tech talent in the world to come to NZ and boost our entrepreneurial economy.
Make teaching computer science and entrepreneurship mandatory parts of the primary and high-school curriculums.
Whilst this isn't an exhaustive list of initiatives, any one of these, if thoughtfully implemented, could have significant impact on our entrepreneurial economy in NZ.
Some of our partners may have already started this work on the ground - view the list of those, or add your details to the list, below.
To create a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand isn't just the job of one person or organisation, it will require the collective efforts of a team of 5 million people to play their part.
It is clear, however, that parts of this action plan requires policy change, and whilst that is a continuing conversation, it's useful to reflect on those people and organisations on the ground who are already doing this work.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. Our current partners specifically working on this goal, are shown below.
Chip has sat on the advisory boards for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise for the Beachheads Project, Biotech Cluster, IT Cluster, and UCLA Graduate School of Business project. Chip has been an advisor to the ICEHOUSE and Strategic School of Business at University of Auckland on the 321Go-Global project.
He has been an advisor to the Hi-Growth ICT government initiative, and Committee for Auckland Australasian Access for USA and Asia Expansion. He is also a senior board member for the University of Auckland’s Computer Science and Engineering Schools.
Contact: Chip Dawson
One of our goals is to inspire the next generation of tech talent through the eyes of those currently building the amazing startups already in our ecosystem. By sharing their stories of how they got to where they are today, young people, career -changers or international talent can see a more tangible path into the industry.
Contact: Greg Denton
We run PhD workshops on Lean Canvas, Intellectual Property, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Only around 15% of PhD students have careers in academia. On the other hand almsot all of our PhD students find employment with the world largest and fastest growing companies.
We provide "live" commercialisation projects to students on the Masters of BioScience Enterprise, Masters of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship and MBA programmes.
We run 5x Lean Canvas workshops for selected academic talent, in particular focused on the emerging generation of University Leaderships to drive the concept of a T-Shaped education.
Contact: Will Charles
ZeroPoint Ventures is a local and international network of entrepreneurs, accelerator managers, and investors who partner with startups and growing companies to re-engineer their organisations for long-term, sustainable growth, and impact.
As part of our community-support activity, our team have continued to mentor, share their experiences, host events, and upskill students and budding entrepreneurs on the need for more tech-savvy talent, through speaking engagements with internship programmes like Summer Of Tech, future-education skills programme, Tech Futures Lab; through university entrepreneurship clubs at Victoria University of Wellington, AUT; and through many events like NZ Tech Week, technology meetups and more.
We've consulted digital and innovation strategy into university programmes and enterprise programmes that work with the majority of high schools in New Zealand on how to create more capable and tech-savvy individuals.
Most recently, we launched the Start NZ Up initiative, a top-down effort to affect proactive policy-change and support for entrepreneurs, specifically to create more tech-savvy talent through teaching computer science throughout all school ages, and to provide better options for remote tech talent to come to New Zealand through enhanced immigration programmes, specifically through Goal 05.
Contact: Dan Khan
There are many of us already working on the ground towards creating a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand. Whilst we contend that there's more support needed, it's useful to understand what others are already doing, what their impact has been so far, and how that impact could be amplified if we significantly change their access to resources.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. The impact our current partners have had, specifically working on this goal, is shown below.
Raising the profile of commercialisation activities and startups as a career choice for PhD students and Post Doctoral Fellows has long been an activity at Wellington UniVentures, and we incubate projects so that the founding team can develop the necessary entrepreneurial skills to complement their deep technical capabilities. This year, we are increasing our level of support and professional development for future founders, including identifying prospects and creating opportunities to learn and engage with the wider ecosystem with or without a commercialisable project.
Contact: Emily Sullivan
If you're already working towards some or all the ecosystem development goals, please consider listing your details below so we can link to you as a partner for those goals. Our overall aim is to collate a list of those working towards each goal in an effort to facilitate cross-collaboration, and to measure our collective impact in building a more vibrant startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand.