Business leaders discuss the year just gone and what will affect them in 2017. Today: Frances Valintine founder of The Mind Lab and Tech Futures Lab

What is 2017 looking like for your business?

2017 can't kick off fast enough. My list of things to achieve this year is extensive and particularly intimidating. However I feel game-fit and my strategy is to break my year down into bite sized achievable projects that are lined up, starting this month at an Innovation Conference in the US while most people are still at the beach.

How does that compare to 2016? How did last year shape up for you and your staff?

Last year was all about scaling The Mind Lab by Unitec to reach regions throughout the country and establishing my new learning facility 'Tech Futures Lab'. In January last year I kicked my year off at the Singularity University located in the grounds of the NASA Research facility. I returned to NZ with more commitment than ever to positively influence education and to ensuring NZ industry is prepared for technological advancement.

This year will see the launch of a significant online video portal for kids, the launch of a Master of Technological Futures, a new part time technology course for parents, the establishment of new lab locations and preparation for my longer-term vision project of establishing a public STEM High School.


I'll continue my work with companies who are evolving to stay competitive and relevant and my speaking commitments for 2017 have me working around the country and the world as debates on the future of work and education are amplified.

In 2016 I worked with over 200 large organisations which gave me real visibility to the things that are keeping NZ executive teams awake at night. There is universal acceptance that all industries need to advance and adopt new practices to continue to operate in today's technology enabled world, however few organisations are really investing in innovation, new knowledge and infrastructure to support this advancement.

I'm hopeful that 2017 the hard conversations held in 2016 will be mobilized into action and we will see a real commitment to progress.

What are the issues affecting your industry and what impact are these likely to have over the next 12 months?

The issues facing business are numerous and my conversations and interface with business is still framed by legacy ideas around business models and dated concepts on key features such as IP, sharing, collaboration and technology adoption. Within my professional circle there is a general consensus that New Zealand needs to experience a highly visible and impactful issue that gets businesses shaken enough to get moving on the talkfest that have taken place in recent years.

Going into an election year, what are the three biggest issues the Government needs to solve?

Government needs to decouple itself from the systems and processes that serve no value other than to slow progress down. The risk adversity culture that has incubated in government agencies is often at odds with Ministers and chief executives who generally show a momentum to get things done.

Lastly we need to ensure the insolvency test is applied to government policies including interest free student loans and the age for the pension. If we can no longer afford legacy policies then bold actions should be taken to resolve.

What role does the business community have in tackling these problems?

Right now businesses should be looking over their shoulder and watching as Apple takes on the finance industry, as Amazon enters our geography with a promise to discount products by 30 per cent and as Alibaba takes over the global insurance market with disruptive more dynamic options. Time is of the essence and success will favour the bold.