Techweek’18 Waikato is a region-wide festival happening the week of May 19-27, with the aim of fostering growth, connection and collaboration in the regional and national technology and innovation sectors.

It’s part of an established annual nationwide TechweekNZ festival, which is supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and is produced in partnership with NZTech.

It’s the second year for Waikato to be involved in Techweek, and local project lead Jannat Maqbool says that the Techweek Waikato App is unique to Techweek’18 Waikato.

“We are really excited about the opportunities for connection and collaboration that the app will facilitate,” says Ms Maqbool.

The app provides information on events across multiple days and locations around the Waikato region, and also has information on sessions, speakers and exhibitors. Users can use the app to register for events and plan their schedule.

They can also use the app as a tool to connect to people and facilitate networking opportunities with other Techweek’18 Waikato attendees.

The app can show who else is attending events (if attendees have enabled their profile to be public), and also includes contact information for exhibitors.

“It is has been designed to maximise the opportunity for positive outcomes and interactions across the region during Techweek’18 Waikato,” says Ms Maqbool. “Of course, we’ve considered privacy too. Attendees can decide whether they want their profile to be visible and recipients of a connection request can then choose whether they would like to accept the request or not.”

Maqbool says the app is easy to use and navigate. Users can register with their LinkedIn profile or set up a new profile for the app.

Ms Maqbool said that app was developed as a prototype, and will be improved year-on-year based on user feedback from Techweek. “We will collect feedback from users then build on existing features and functionality to enhance the application,” says Ms Maqbool. “We are interested to gauge usability and how beneficial the app was in facilitating networking.”

The Techweek Waikato App was briefly showcased at the Techweek’18 Waikato launch event last month, but only became available to download in late April.

Plans for future enhancements to the application include the ability for attendees to interact with a wearable device paired with the app to activate a connection request that recipients can then review and accept or reject when convenient.

“Instead of using their phones to connect with or look up other attendees, people will be able to use the next version of the app to get that information in a more subtle and direct way. The wearable devices will ‘talk’ to each other, allowing attendees to focus on their discussion without needing to worry about trying to remember names or take photos of name tags,” says Ms Maqbool.

Ideas for further enhancement also include the ability to add a note or audio file with reference to an attendee, speaker, or exhibit. Developers would also like to add a feature enabling attendees to track their movements through the week, across several events and locations.  

“With a programme of 16 events, including more than 55 speakers and 30-plus exhibitors, being run across the region, Techweek’18 Waikato provides participants with numerous opportunities to network and share knowledge,” says Waikato Innovation Park business growth manager Craig Purcell.

Many events will be held at the Park, in Ruakura, and at Wintec, in Hamilton, with regional breakfasts and an Internet of Things (IoT) tour across the Waikato, which Purcell’s team is helping to coordinate alongside Ms Maqbool.

Adds Purcell: “The app is fantastic. It’s been designed to support attendees and to help foster collaboration. We know that working together is one of the best ways for our region to collectively build capacity and growth the technology sector.”

Information on the Techweek’18 Waikato programme can be found at http://techweek.wipltd.co.nz including links to download the Techweek Waikato App.

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ABOUT TECHWEEK’18 WAIKATO

Techweek’18 Waikato is focused on showcasing “innovation that is good for the world” through a week-long series of events, panel discussion and a showcase of developments. Speakers, exhibitors and participants include a mix of start-ups, technology companies, business, tertiary institutions, schools and community groups from across the Waikato as well as other regions of New Zealand.

The programme includes insights into innovation in science and engineering; the changing world of work, education and technology; speakers talking about their latest great idea, invention, value-add, innovation or disruption; tips on growing strong, diverse networks; views on how changes we are starting to see in the digital space will positively impact the world from the heart of the Waikato; innovative applications of data and analytics including data visualisation and data journalism; an opportunity to take the time to look at how features of blockchain technology may be able to enhance trust and increase the value of products and services; leveraging social media to grow business; plus a TEDxRuakura Salon event and a Maori Tech Showcase.

Techweek’18 Waikato’s featured event is an IoT tour across the Waikato, which includes visits to the towns of Raglan and Paeroa. Participants will insights from tech-led businesses using IoT into what the future could look like for the environment, health and wellbeing, primary industries, smart cities and tourism.

·         More information about Techweek’18 Waikato can be found at http://techweek.wipltd.co.nz

·         Waikato IoT Tour: http://techweek.wipltd.co.nz/page/iot-tour/

·         Young Innovators Challenge: http://techweek.wipltd.co.nz/page/young-innovators-challenge/

·         Maori Tech Showcase: https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/maori-tech-showcase-tickets-44206192913

·         To find out more about the Waikato tech sector and local collaboration and support for people in tech, visit http://cultivateit.nz/

·         To find out what’s happening nationally with TechweekNZ in May, visit www.techweek.co.nz