Find out how businesses are harnessing tech to solve problems, tell stories and connect with the world at Rotorua Techweek from next Friday. The Techweek programme, from May 17-24, features nine events ranging from the impact of big data, 3D printing and digital storytelling, through to a $10,000 eSports tournament and kids' events with playdough circuits, cubelets and mBots robotics.
Rotorua Economic Development was facilitating the inaugural Rotorua Techweek and chief executive Michelle Templer said it was a great opportunity for Rotorua businesses to expand their knowledge of the rapidly accelerating tech world.
"Attendees can engage with world-renowned speakers, national and local experts on a wide range of tech subjects to learn about ways to improve efficiencies, productivity and storytelling in their businesses," she said.
The launch event called the Fourth Industrial Revolution is looking at the convergence of technology.
Speakers included Microsoft Asia software engineering manager Chris Auld (brought up in Rotorua), who was an expert in cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as Figure.NZ deputy chief executive Ngapera Riley (Te Arawa) who ran a tech charity dedicated to making New Zealand's public information easy to find and use.
Rotorua Economic Development Techweek organiser Tatiana Kiwi-Knight had also organised a Storytelling and Tech Festival with a stream for students and a stream for businesses.
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"Storytelling is the focus because it's a common thread through tech and science. Also, Rotorua and Te Arawa have a history of exceptional storytelling and it is through these stories that we retain human connection in an increasingly digitised world," Kiwi-Knight said.Speakers at the rangatahi (youth) event included KidsCoin and many local technologists and storytellers. Speakers at the business event included leading Auckland digital storytelling agency Wrestler, local photography and video experts and local advocates of the power of brand storytelling.
Digital Natives Academy, in partnership with Riot Games (League of Legends developers), had put up $10,000 in cash prizes for a Clash of the Taniwha eSports Tournament and was also running workshops educating parents and schools on gaming and esports.
Rotorua Library - Te Aka Mauri was helping to inspire rangatahi (youth) with innovative activities such as 3D print your name, Lego Club, mBots Robotics Club Taster and Squishy Circuits for Under 5s - great events for families to attend together.
It was also exploring the social side with a Tech & Tea event in partnership with Chorus and SeniorNet to find out about the latest voice-assisted devices.
The Rotorua Blind Community had 17 people attending to support their increased use of tech-based tools such as voice-assisted Alexa devices. Code Club for adults was also on the library programme.
Rotorua X Connect was holding an event on how Bay of Plenty-based deep tech incubator WNT Ventures supported local start-ups with investment and market validation.
And those who wanted to embrace National Co-working Day could book a spot at Digital Basecamp.
Kiwi-Knight said the festival was about "highlighting, bringing together and recognising the amazing tech talent, entrepreneurship and ecosystem that we have in Rotorua or nearby".