The Waikato technology sector is thriving, and a week-long regional technology symposium is being planned this May to capture that momentum.

Hamilton recorded $109 million regional revenue growth among its top tech companies in 2017 which, at 21.7 per cent in revenue growth, makes Waikato the fastest growing tech region in the country according to the 2017 Technology Investment Network (TIN) report.

Building on that momentum is Techweek’18 Waikato, a local initiative that runs in parallel with the nationwide Techweek’18 festival led by NZTech and supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The theme of Techweek’18 is ‘innovation that is good for the world’.

Waikato’s week-long technology symposium will run from May 19 to 27, with events at Waikato Innovation Park and around the region. Organisers say Techweek’18 Waikato will help connect people working in the technology sector, encouraging collaboration, capability building and innovation.

Project lead of Techweek’18 Waikato, Jannat Maqbool, says New Zealand technology and innovation sectors are growing at an incredible speed.  The demand for people with digital skills is high, and forecast to grow.

“Waikato is very much part of that – not only in Hamilton but across the wider region,” says Maqbool. “There are many areas around the Waikato where innovative, tech-led companies and other initiatives are thriving and doing amazing things. We have loads of support from local businesses and individuals keen to be a part of developing a high quality, engaging, sustainable and internationally relevant programme of events”

Techweek ’18 Waikato will celebrate tech across the region and provide attendees with an opportunity to talk, share ideas and be inspired. A highlight of the programme are a series of regional technology breakfasts held around the Waikato.

Through the week there will exhibitors of emerging technology, and various panel discussions on key topics relevant to the industry.

These include:

  • A Māori business panel and technology showcase
  • A science and engineering event which also includes youth from the region
  • a panel discussing the importance of remaining human-centric in the changing world of work, education and technology
  • A panel featuring insights into data trends and technologies including a look at examples of data visualisation and data journalism
  • an opportunity to find out more about blockchain technology and join a forum looking at the how it may apply to education, finance, identity and logistics

Techweek’18 Waikato will also run an innovation challenge leading up to the event in May, aimed at inspiring young people across the region to innovate with technology.

“It’s going to an exciting week packed with innovation, learning, discussion and collaboration,” says Maqbool. “The scope of opportunities is huge for the cross-pollination of ideas and identifying opportunities for further collaboration and technology development.”

Participants will get a chance to pitch technologies for commercialisation or co-development, and alongside attendees, learn from thought leaders, and connect with international and national visitors working in the tech space.

Techweek’18 Waikato’s featured event is an Internet of Things (IoT) tour, which provides an opportunity to tour the Waikato region to experience innovative applications of IoT.

Maqbool says IoT refers to the connectivity of “things”, essentially devices, appliances and machinery and how data can be collected, analysed and shared to solve problems and drive innovation, positively impacting the environment and economy as well as enhancing everyday living.

The tour will include insights into world-leading technical and scientific experts preserving the coastline and their community; a health and wellbeing focus; sensors and data enhancing the benefit and value of New Zealand primary industries; initiatives enabling sustainable tourism; and the co-creation of smart and attractive urban environments for residents and visitors.

Craig Purcell, business growth manager at Waikato Innovation Park, says Techweek’18 Waikato “isn’t just about Hamilton”.

“It’s an opportunity for the entire region and we want to include everyone,” says Purcell. “We are going to shine a light on innovative ideas and successful tech initiatives and tech-led companies across the Waikato.”

Last year saw the establishment of CultivateIT, a cluster group of Waikato ICT companies and tech professionals. CultivateIT chair Thomas Coats says he expects the Waikato Techweek’18 programme will build on that momentum, helping to retain skills and build capacity in the region.

CEO of Waikato Innovation Park, Stuart Gordon, says he is pleased that his team is coordinating the event. “Tech-led business in the Waikato are leading the country, in terms of growth, but also in the way they work together,” says Gordon. “I’m excited to see Techweek’18 happening here in May. There is a lot of diversity in the sector here; it’s not just ICT but biotech, foodtech and agritech that is thriving in the Waikato region. We see it here with businesses at the Park, where innovation and collaboration among tech companies is high.”

Organisers are calling for Waikato companies with technology interests who are wanting to exhibit at an event or to support the initiative in other ways to get in touch with the team at Waikato Innovation Park.

Find more info about Waikato Innovation Park and Waikato's Techweek'18 programme here.