Techweek’18 Waikato celebrates tech talent across the region

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Innovation Park business growth manager Craig Purcell speaks at the event.

Waikato’s week-long technology symposium, Techweek’18 Waikato, has been hailed a success by organisers, participants and attendees.

Running from May 19 to 25, Techweek’18 Waikato hosted information and communications technology (ICT) and innovation-inspired events at Waikato Innovation Park and locations around Hamilton and the wider Waikato region. The Waikato event ran in parallel with the nationwide Techweek festival, organised by NZTech and supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

According to the 2017 Technology Investment Network (TIN) report, Waikato is the fastest growing technology region in the country. Waikato Techweek’18 project lead Jannat Maqbool says a key focus of the week was showcasing the breadth of technology talent and expertise across the region.

“We had more than 1300 people join us at 21 events across Waikato,” says Jannat.

“We wanted to showcase the advantages of working in ICT in the Waikato region, and the depth of tech talent here. It’s amazing how much creativity and innovation there are in small towns, and we can tend to overlook them for the bigger cities, so we made sure events in Raglan, Thames, Taupo and Paeroa were on the agenda.”

Techweek exhibitors at Waikato Innovation Park.

Jannat says the featured event, the Internet of Things (IoT) tour, was a highlight among the Waikato events.

The Internet of Things focuses on the connectivity between things – devices, appliances and machinery – and how data can be collected, analysed and shared to solve problems and drive innovation.

“During Techweek’18 Waikato more than 200 attendees were able to gain great insights into how IoT is being applied around us at a regional level,” says Jannat. “This included the work of world-leading technical and scientific experts in Raglan to the applications of IoT in healthcare showcased at Zealong Tea Estate in Gordonton. Attendees learned about a telepresence robot and what the future looks like for pro-active primary care. The focus in Hamilton was smart cities, and in Paeroa they learned about the application of IoT in primary industries.”

“In its early days the Internet of Things centred on individual consumers and how they can use technology to enhance their lives. Now we’re seeing large organisations and cities start to adopt this technology to create connections between information technology (IT) and physical objects on a much larger scale.”

Jannat says the Māori Tech Showcase at Wintec was another major highlight of Techweek’18.

“We know the Māori economy in Waikato is growing fast in a business sense, and it’s also growing rapidly from an IT and technology point of view.

“More than 400 people attended the Māori Tech Showcase, which shows the interest the sector is gaining, and how the use of IT and technology are being used to enhance Māori business activity and connect people to New Zealand’s cultural story.”

Craig Purcell, business growth manager at Waikato Innovation Park and one of Techweek’18 Waikato organisers, says he’s continually impressed by the brain power, connections and technology in the Waikato region.

“I’m blown away by the sheer amount of IT talent in this region,” he says. “People of all ages and across all different sectors turned out to see our events in Hamilton, Thames, Taupo, Raglan and Paeroa, and talking to them I know they walked away with an appreciation of the IT talent in this region”.

“The fact that we are part of the national Techweek shows we can be really proud of the quality and scale of events hosted in the Waikato region.”

Craig says Techweek’18 Waikato is just the beginning of initiatives to support the emerging and fast-growing IT sector in Waikato. Other initiatives include the establishment of CultivateIT, a cluster group of Waikato ICT companies and tech professionals created in 2017 to help retain skills and build capacity in the Waikato region.

“The sector is thriving and the more support and celebration we can give it, the better. The IT and technology sector in Waikato – and New Zealand – are growing rapidly and in the Waikato region we’re well-placed to be at the forefront of that growth.

“I suspect Techweek’18 Waikato is just the beginning of an ongoing celebration of the capabilities of both the region and the country.”

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