Organisers of Techweek Waikato 19 are encouraging Waikato's towns and communities to head to a local event to see the technology talent on offer in their own backyard during the week-long tech showcase running May 20 to 26.
Techweek Waikato 19 regional co-ordinator Jannat Maqbool says they're taking technology on the road in an effort to engage Waikato's smaller towns and communities with the innovative technology and talent being developed on our doorstep.
"This year's national Techweek theme is 'innovation that's good for the world', and from our point of view, that means celebrating the exceptional tech talent we have close to home and taking it to people who might not otherwise have the chance to see it – whether that's because they're in a smaller community or they simply haven't heard much about it."
TechWeek '19 Waikato is being led by Te Waka, Waikato's regional economic development agency, in partnership with CultivateIT, Waikato's IT industry group, with events taking place across the region.
CEO of Te Waka, Michael Bassett-Foss, says when it comes to local tech development, there's a lot for Waikato's towns and communities to be proud of.
"Our region has been ranked the fastest growing tech region in New Zealand for the second year in a row in the Technology Investment Network (TIN) report, recording $119 million in regional revenue growth among our top tech companies in 2018, the largest growth rate in the country at 16.3 per cent.
"This revenue hasn't just come from our main centre, but is a combination of the innovation happening all around the region; places like Cambridge web design company Rocketspark, who have clients all around the world, and Raglan-based aerial robotics company Aeronavics – to name just a couple."
Maqbool says it's important to know that Techweek isn't just for "techies".
"As Techweek becomes more successful each year, people from non-tech backgrounds are taking an interest – which is great to see. Our aim is to continue taking tech all around the region year after year, so that people outside of Hamilton get the chance to see what an amazing contribution our local industry is making around the world."
There are 29 events on the agenda this month, and alongside events in Hamilton, several are booked for Waikato's towns, including Raglan, Cambridge, Matamata, Huntly, and Tokoroa.
Hamilton will host the major opening event, Live Local Work Global, May 20 at Claudelands.
Free to the public, attendees will be able to see and touch real-life examples of digital humans, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, drones, electric vehicles, facial recognition technology, virtual reality, and much more.
"There are a series of tech breakfasts in the towns, which will provide locals with the opportunity to hear from industry leaders and other technology and innovation speakers on issues specific to their location," says Maqbool.
"For example Huntly's breakfast will look at ways to bridge the digital divide, the Cambridge breakfast will look at ways to build regional tech capacity, and the Tokoroa event will inspire people to learn more about technology and how it can shape the future."
A big focus for this year is encouraging young people to take an active interest in technology as the demand for digital skills grows.
"This year we're also excited to host a series of after-school library roadshows, aimed just for our young people," says Maqbool.
"The TechLeap after school library tour is where young students with an active interest in digital technology can get inspired and meet others like them.
They'll be able to look at some of the cutting-edge tech currently out there, collaborate with each other on projects, and get hands on with electronics and robotics."
Maqbool says while Techweek is about celebrating technology, it's also important to create opportunities for learning and collaboration.
"While we're keen to make sure tech is celebrated, we also want to make sure it's accessible to everyone, and that as many people as possible get the opportunity to interact with what's out there."
For more information on all the events taking place during Techweek Waikato 19, visit cultivateIT.nz/techweek.
Smart City leaders visit
Three key players from Australasia's Smart City network will share their insights in Hamilton as part of Techweek19 Waikato.
Hamilton City Council and Hamilton Central Business Association are presenting the Smart Cities Lunch.
The smart city initiative is being embraced by local authorities around the world to improve liveability, encourage innovation, and solve problems identified by their communities.
The Smart Cities Lunch, sponsored by UltraFast Fibre, will feature guest speakers Adam Beck, Chelsey Stewart and John Heard.
Mr Beck, executive director of Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand, has more than 20 years experience influencing infrastructure and urban regeneration projects across the world.
Ms Stewart leads the Smart Hamilton programme at Hamilton City Council, which has delivered initiatives such as the city's conversion to LED streetlights and contributed to the launch of the Waikato Data Portal.
Mr Heard is chief technology officer for Smart Parking and will share the potential of emerging technologies, and innovations in the pipeline of the parking industry.
Ms Stewart says the event is a chance to hear about exciting developments being introduced in Australasia and around the world, and those being applied in Hamilton.
"Hamilton and the Waikato are currently the fastest growing tech industry in New Zealand and have a growing reputation as leaders in innovation and technological advances," she says.
"Improving the wellbeing of the community is at the heart of our Smart Hamilton approach, and participation and collaboration are a key part of the process.
"Come along and engage with what we are doing to help create a smart society."
The Smart Cities Lunch is on Thursday 23 May from 12pm to 2pm at Waikato Innovation Park's conference centre in Ruakura.The event is free and attendees can arrive at any time.