Tech entrepreneurs are singing Tauranga's praises after visiting the city earlier this month for a series of innovation events including the Groundswell Festival of Innovation.

Digital start-up StrutFit chief executive Ang Nayyar said he was so impressed with Tauranga he cancelled his flight home to Auckland so he could meet more
people.

"I didn't think of Tauranga as a tech or innovator scene, but clearly I was mistaken.
What I found was not only people willing to start their own companies … but people who had created companies, exited and then had come back.

"Then I went to Groundswell and I was like woah, this rivals Techweek in Auckland."

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Nayyar was part of a 10-strong delegation of tech entrepreneurs from around New
Zealand brought together by the Asia New Zealand Foundation to learn from
Tauranga businesses.

The Foundation supports entrepreneurs and business people to build their skills and connections so they thrive in Asia.

Nayyar's tech start-up was not yet expanding to Asia, but he was still learning from tech trends in the region.

"One thing Asia is good for is seeing what the future looks like. Various countries,
particularly China, Korea, and Japan – they are ahead of the curve in terms of
adopting technology."

The group visited visitor management platform SwipedOn and Arataki Cultural Trails.

For Dunedin's Elora Chang, a Google Women Techmakers scholarship recipient this
year, the trip was inspiring.

"Often you only think of Auckland and Wellington as the 'tech hubs' so it was a
pleasant surprise to be exposed to such a thriving tech scene in Tauranga.

"I always knew Tauranga had its roots firmly placed in agriculture and horticulture so I expected to visit companies with technological innovations built around these
sectors, but instead we visited companies ranging from interactive storytelling to
[software as a service] products."

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Asia New Zealand Foundation entrepreneurship director Adam McConnochie said
they'd picked Tauranga as a showcase city for its entrepreneurs because of the
obvious innovation it was nurturing.

"Businesses like Arataki Cultural Trails and SwipedOn show that you don't have to
be in Auckland or Wellington to be running a cutting-edge firm with potential to be
picked up in a diverse and dynamic region like Asia."

Asia New Zealand Foundation
* The Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono is New Zealand's leading
non-partisan, non-profit authority on Asia.

* It provides experiences and resources to help New Zealanders build their knowledge, skills, connections and confidence to thrive in Asia.