A survey of Waikato’s growing tech and innovation sector paints an optimistic picture, with 92 percent of the 50 respondents expecting their company performance to improve over the next three years.
The Tech and Innovation Sector Survey distributed in November 2020 by Waikato’s economic development agency Te Waka in partnership with Hamilton City Council, Gallagher and Cultivate IT, is part of a joint initiative aimed at building a better understanding of the size and shape of the sector, together with the perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing business in a COVID-19 environment.
“The technology and innovation sector in the Waikato region is strong and has significant growth prospects,” said Te Waka Chair, Hamish Bell. “The links between education, technology and innovation in the Waikato bring real benefits both to the development and funding ecosystem, but also to the ability to link those developments directly into industry – in particular in the advanced manufacturing, agri and food manufacturing and healthcare sectors where they accelerate competitive advantage.
“This work will help us build a better understanding of the current state and impact of the industry, and will enable us to better connect talent, opportunities and capital but also to more strategically focus our attention on accelerating development of the industry in the region”.
The survey suggests that - on a numbers basis - Waikato tech businesses are predominantly small, with 65 percent having turnover of $5 million or less. But 20 percent of respondents have revenues in excess of $20 million, with several far exceeding this level.
Gallagher CEO Kahl Betham says the size of the sector is very real and growing, with many playing in international markets. “You’d be amazed at some of the world class talent already living and working here in the Waikato, so it’s hardly surprising that we see significant potential for the Waikato tech sector to drive exports and create impact on the world stage”.
Sixty one percent of respondents described the impact of COVID-19 on their business as high or very high, but the sector remains confident, with 57 percent expecting to recruit from one to ten people in the near future.
Bruce Trevarthen, Chair of Cultivate IT said, “the impact of COVID-19 is unsurprising, but given the almost-overnight digital transformation required to keep the majority of New Zealand businesses operating the optimism of businesses as reflected in their plans to recruit staff is a good indicator of the genuine potential and growth of the industry in the Waikato“.
Hamilton City Councillor Ryan Hamilton says as a sector, technology and innovation are critical to diversifying both our regional and the national economy. “We see significant potential to leverage the existing centres of excellence already in Hamilton in education, technology and manufacturing to attract further talent and business into the region, and to see this sector bring a very real and growing economic contribution to the Waikato.
Te Waka, Hamilton City Council and key leaders from within the sector are partnering to create a vision for the future. Hamilton City has taken a lead on developing a value proposition for the sector which is currently in draft.