Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Kiwi firms need more help to go global, says new boss

Candace Kinser, chief executive of NZICT. Photo / Supplied
Candace Kinser, chief executive of NZICT. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand companies are producing world-leading products but are not getting the support they need to go overseas, says the new head of a technology industry group.

Candace Kinser doesn't officially start as chief executive of New Zealand Information and Communication Technologies group until next month, but said work had already begun to come her way.

She moves into the new role after a four-year stint as head of Auckland-based software company Biomatters, replacing Brett O'Riley, who took up a position at the Ministry of Science and Innovation last month.

NZICT was founded in December 2008 to give a collective voice to the technology industry and has more than 100 members, including Dell, IBM, Xero and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.

Kinser sees a strong innovative streak in the local sector and says large overseas firms are also recognising it.

"[Local companies] are coming up with some amazing ideas," she said. "The large multi-national organisations buying up New Zealand firms, it's not like there are only five companies on the planet they could consider purchasing - there are literally thousands of companies who would love to be bought out by them and yet [foreign firms] are choosing Kiwi innovation time and time again."

While she was full of praise for the sector, Kinser said more should be done to create an environment where even the smallest companies could set their sights on exporting to the rest of world.

"What I believe a lot of New Zealand companies need help with and is not done very well is being given the appropriate encouragement and support and rallying to look at the export markets and go offshore."

Despite some in the sector arguing that New Zealand needs to hold on to its intellectual property, Kinser said there was nothing wrong with entrepreneurs selling up to overseas giants.

"If you get bought for a large amount of money by an overseas company and the creators stay in New Zealand, you get a whacking amount of money back into their pockets ... and by and large, these people, like the Sam Morgans of this world, take their money and re-invest in not one or two but five or 10 other start-ups and they, in turn, get going and make money and you get this wonderful eco-system."

- NZ Herald

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