Waikato Innovation Park was abuzz with the region’s brightest minds and most innovative businesses at the first annual Waikato Technology Showcase, held to celebrate the launch of Cultivate IT – a new regional cluster group for information and communication technology professionals.
Hamilton MP Hon. David Bennett opened the event – but not with a ribbon – a click of a mouse instead was required to open the day. Mr Bennett said the Waikato IT community made a significant contribution to the country, not only with the large number of innovative businesses and people working in the field, but the high number of ICT graduates produced in the Waikato region.
The sold-out event saw 145 people gather in the modern buildings at Waikato Innovation Park, which is a hub for many tech-based companies in the region. Around 40 exhibitors in the ICT sector from around the Waikato region had stalls at the event, allowing delegates to network throughout the day.
Speakers at the Waikato Technology Showcase included local cyber security expert Dr Ryan Ko, 3D vision technology expert Dr Adrian Dorrington and wireless engineering and Internet of Things (IoT) expert Dr Dean Armstrong.
“The calibre of the attendees was very high, both from a business and information technology point of view,” said Waikato Innovation Park CEO Stuart Gordon. “The number of attendees well exceeded our expectations. It reinforced what the whole purpose of Cultivate IT was about. Until now we haven’t understood the depth of IT calibre in the Waikato and the sheer number of IT businesses here.”
Dr Ryan Ko, head of Cyber Security Researchers of Waikato, said the Waikato Technology Showcase was a great event for the industry, and the launch of Cultivate IT was fantastic for the region. “Cultivate IT is quite exciting and there is a significant number of technical experts from the Waikato IT sector here,” said Dr Ko. “We are already starting to see some great collaboration planned.”
Among the delegates was Nathan Orr from the Waikato Chamber of Commerce, who said that technology was one of New Zealand’s major exports, and the Waikato region had an important role to play in that. “I’m interested in the formation of business clusters in the Waikato and what that means for the growth of our local economy,” said Mr Orr.
Networking with other like-minded business people was a drawcard for many. David Raven from Lux Mapping said he was at the event to build relationships with other companies.
Rachel Kelly from Spark Tank said it was time for the Waikato ICT sector to promote itself nationally and internationally, as the region had a wealth of brilliant people and businesses doing innovative work. “To some degree we are the black sheep of the New Zealand tech family and it’s about time we got together to let people know about the depth of talent here,” said Ms Kelly. “It’s wonderful to see everyone come together to launch Cultivate IT and share our capabilities with the world.”
Participants shared photos and posts on social media using the hashtag #CultivateIT and #WIPTechShow