Inspiration and innovation at Canterbury’s Tech Summit

Inspiration and innovation at Canterbury’s Tech Summit

Next week’s Canterbury Tech Summit brings together leaders in innovation, technology and business to share ideas, grow their networks and be inspired.

It’s no surprise it sold out well before it started, given the reputation our region has built as a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Summit explores trends, opportunities and major shifts on the horizon. It’s organised by Canterbury Tech, a broad-based professional association dedicated to advancing innovation, commercialisation and exporting.

It aims to develop globally successful technology companies, large and small, through collaboration and education. It’s got a lot to be proud of. One of the summit’s keynote speakers is Andy Cunningham, an internationally recognised expert in creating marketing and branding strategies that drive growth and shareholder value in technology businesses. She absolutely understands what makes tech businesses succeed, having worked in Silicon Valley since 1983 – helping Steve Jobs launch the Macintosh and going on to work with other game-changing technologies and companies.

Some of New Zealand’s most successful tech entrepreneurs are based in our region, exporting their products and services to meet global niche markets and developing solutions for multi-national organisations like Disney, Ford and Nike. The breadth of the Christchurch tech sector is impressive.

It includes software, services, electronics, high-value manufacturing, health-tech and agri-tech businesses, ranging in size from global multi-national companies to small start-ups. The Canterbury tech sector contributes $2.4 billion worth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and exports $1.1 billion annually. Around 15,000 people are already employed in the sector and predictions are for a 50 per cent increase on today’s numbers by 2025.

High-tech manufacturing is a particular strength of the local tech sector. Christchurch company TE Connectivity is a great example, successfully competing for business on the world stage. The company exports up to four tons of electronic products to Australia every week. Using 3D printing, staff are manufacturing everything from prosthetic hands to parts for jet packs. It’s very cool stuff that’s making a real difference to people’s lives around the globe. The firm’s purpose-build factory in the Christchurch suburb of Hillsborough is also very cool. It demonstrates how different modern manufacturing premises are – light, quiet and clean, a far cry from the historic perception of a dirty, noisy manufacturing environment.

Modlar, started by Christchurch entrepreneur Scott Barrington, is another local company building international success. The Modlar platform supports architects and designers through all stages of the commercial architectural design process by connecting them to world-class building products, as well as offering a chance for them to network with their peers and share their projects. Scott, a trained architect, designed the process to overcome the frustration architects faced with the time it took them to research and specify products. Modlar’s focus is the United States, where the building materials market is worth $300 billion annually. As of last month, 14 per cent of all US architects are already using the product. The company’s aim is to significantly grow that market share to 25 percent by the end of next year.

The collaborative spirit that Christchurch embraced following the earthquakes has underpinned the success of many of our tech sector success stories. Connections and networks have developed to enable people to easily share their knowledge and experience, and spark their ideas off others.

ChristchurchNZ helps to support entrepreneurs to turn their bright ideas into profitable businesses because they benefit our region and help to build our reputation as a great place to connect and prosper.