ADInstruments is a global company started in Dunedin nearly 30 years ago by Michael Macknight. It's a world leader in data acquisition systems for the life sciences in research and tertiary education. Today, ADInstruments employs more than 200 people globally and its hardware and software is used in all of the world's top 100 universities as well as hundreds of research organizations. Head office is in Dunedin - the largest of the offices - and employs approximately 75 people. Two of their Dunedin-based team share their perspectives of living in the city and working at ADInstruments.

Alexandrea Sides, scientific content developer

Our customers can be studying heart function in Arctic fish to understand climate change, or recording isolated muscle movements for stroke rehabilitation but the common need is the same: trustworthy hardware and software that gives the scientist the power to do what they need to do.

Hearing the stories of the discoveries made by our customers is really rewarding -- it's what I love most about my job as a writer, and it's a great feeling to see how far our impact can reach from Dunedin.


We focus a lot on agility -- both in the way we work and the way we think -- and we have a team who solve problems in creative, lean ways, for really smart people, all over the world.

Earlier this year we had some scientists in Switzerland who wanted to measure emotional responses to virtual environments, and needed to mesh their virtual city with our software to monitor heart rate and sweat response. A team member explored their problem, wrote them some connecting code and had it to them within a day.

That's the benefit of being in Dunedin -- we get amazing graduates from the university who are great software engineers but have also been exposed to the med schools, humanities, music, psychology -- all the other departments that are so strong here in Otago. Nothing fazes them.

Whenever a researcher needs to do something a little bit off the wall, the team embraces it.

When you run a business in a big city, you can get distracted by competitors and start making comparative judgements of your progress.

Here we have that little bit of breathing space that lets us focus energy on what matters -- which for us, isn't immediately about being the best data acquisition company in the world, it's about building the world's best data acquisition and analysis tools.

That's a huge difference in mindset. I mean, ultimately if you achieve the second point you can achieve the first but it's about having your priorities right.

I've always wanted to do something that would have a positive impact.

I've lived and worked in Australia and Europe so it's funny that the opportunity to really challenge myself, and to work for a global company in a meaningful industry, was back where I started.

There's no reason for a business not to go as far as it can anymore.

We can aim to be good, truly good, not 'good, for Dunedin', or 'good, for New Zealand' but good on a world scale.

Good, period. We don't need to qualify it.

Rua Haszard Morris on left with Alexandra Sides of AD Instruments. Image / supplied
Rua Haszard Morris on left with Alexandra Sides of AD Instruments. Image / supplied

Rua Haszard, user experience coordinator

When people talk about Dunedin, they often talk about proximity -- about how close the beach or the mountains are to the city -- without saying why it's important.

But it makes a huge difference to leave work at the end of the day and have the rest of your life right there in front of you.

It doesn't take planning to go and do what you love, whether it's playing music in the city or heading up into the hills -- it just isn't a big deal.

My kids can walk to school or bike to the park. I can walk to work.

I feel that you can't separate the accessibility of everything from the benefits of running a business here, because it affects how people approach all aspects of life, including work.

If you are under a lot of stress or if life is difficult, you can end up taking a conservative, almost defensive, approach to problem-solving.

If the stakes are perceived to be too high then companies can try to make changes without risk, in a slow, incremental way.

That's a slow death in software development. In our industry, if you aren't trying new things and moving fast then you become less and less relevant every day.

Our leadership team have created an atmosphere to bring out creativity -- it's a top-down mindset.

Playing with ideas, failing fast and enjoying the feeling of risk is really encouraged. Hack weeks mean every team member gets used to making decisions and freely innovating.

I love it because you don't end up with a team that do what they are told, instead you have a team of capable individuals, responsibility is devolved, ideas can come from anyone and be acted on.

This allows us to move faster and turn quickly in response to customer needs or new technology.

I believe the creative impulse for a writer or a musician is the same as for a developer or a user experience designer.

Dunedin's artistic and cultural heritage is all around us here and I think we're making people see that the digital environment is a new space for creativity, it's part of the same culture.