Brett O'Riley: Driven by a unity of purpose

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Auckland needs to seize opportunities, says Brett O'Riley.

Auckland must support innovation-based entrepreneurs, says Brett O'Riley.
Auckland must support innovation-based entrepreneurs, says Brett O'Riley.

The key to Auckland's economic transformation is a thriving innovation ecosystem connecting 'born global' businesses, growth opportunities, smart thinkers, entrepreneurs, and investment. These businesses typically grow faster, employ more workers and generate export earnings - critical areas for Auckland.

Auckland wants to continue to grow as an innovation hub of the Asia-Pacific region. Maximising the benefits of that ambition will depend on how well the region responds to the global drivers of innovation and change.

At Ateed, as Auckland Council's economic growth agency, we want to make sure we are focused on the areas where we can add the most value to innovation across the region. It's important that we develop these opportunities with partners and we have just gone out to the innovation community to get its views.

Auckland needs to start to seize opportunities provided by global technology trends such as "big data" and the cloud, and further develop key high-tech industries where we hold a competitive edge.

At the heart of our work is the partnering principle of kotahitanga - a unity of purpose - which drives our mission to collaborate on innovation.

Ateed will continue to attract multinational companies to Auckland, help build small business clusters around them, and leverage their global connections. Our programmes are designed to increase the number of large-scale businesses in sectors where we have competitive advantage, and get them engaged with international markets and investors at an early stage.

Momentum is starting to build around innovation in Auckland.

Realising the city's full potential will be based on core fundamentals including the right infrastructure, a highly skilled and international workforce, capital availability, and a connected ecosystem involving business working alongside research and educational institutions, and local and central government agencies.

We need greater collaboration across the ecosystem.

Industry led programmes and competitions develop and encourage entrepreneurs, but we need more.

Ateed's role in the growth of innovation includes investing on behalf of Council in two cornerstone projects, the precinct at Wynyard Quarter, and The FoodBowl - Te Ipu Kai, which form part of the city's emerging innovation corridor.

Auckland has a diverse range of thriving co-working spaces and innovation hubs, research and tertiary institutions.

A great example is Massey University, which Ateed signed a Memorandum of Understanding with last year. Its e-centre is at the core of an emerging innovation hub in Albany.

Our North office is supporting locally driven initial discussions about "Techapuna" - an opportunity to try to emulate Venice Beach, California, where Google has led moves to attract high-tech entrepreneurs based on a fantastic urban coast lifestyle and collaboration opportunities.

We work with Callaghan Innovation, through the Government's Regional Business Partner programme, to support R&D across Auckland. Our R&D specialists help many innovative companies gain government funding to commercialise ideas and protect intellectual property.

Companies such as Power Technology Components (turnkey solar systems for the Pacific Islands), D'Arcy Polychrome (powdered paint pigment systems), Steve Haythorne and his Mobot, and Unleashed Software's inventory management software are emerging local success stories.

There is no better example of Auckland's innovative potential than the cloud-based education tools provider Hapara, which developed a fantastic Teacher Dashboard app for the Manaiakalani Education cluster in Tamaki.

Auckland must support innovation-based entrepreneurs - known as IBEs - to develop and nurture early-stage companies in a small number of growth sectors.

Ateed will help connect them with new programmes that support business incubation and acceleration, and with angel groups and individual investors.

The international markets Auckland aims to break into are intensely competitive.

Collaboration, co-operation and partnership will stimulate innovation and Auckland's long-term economic success.

Brett O'Riley is CEO of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed).

- NZ Herald

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