Christchurch Tech on the world stage

Craig Cary 2 - K020 team in the dry valleys photo from Jacob Anderson.jpg

By Anna Elphick, ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Strategy, Policy and Insights

The technological revolution is impacting on every aspect of life, with Christchurch businesses at the forefront of innovation in an ever-changing world.

It is estimated within the next 20 years, 50-80 percent of jobs as we currently know them will be affected by technological advances.

New Zealand is a nation of small businesses – 473,846 according to KPMG – 97 percent of which have less than 20 employees, 96 percent are sole traders and 34 percent are small and medium businesses which have been operating for less than six years.

Small businesses might struggle to make an impact on the global stage but they have the advantage of being highly adaptive and agile.

And here in Christchurch we have a real opportunity to make our mark on the world as a city of exploration; bringing new ideas to life with impact.

At a civic scale we are embracing change and carving out a niche for ourselves in the world of future transport, future foods and space and Antarctic exploration.  

In the last month alone, we have been at the forefront of the launch of the world’s first self-piloted air taxi, have seen the start of a city wide electric car sharing scheme and our research endeavours with Ohmio Technologies into autonomous vehicles are well documented.

Christchurch’s tech sector is the second largest in the country, employing over 15,000 people and contributing $2.4 billion of value to the region’s GDP.  

Every year our tech businesses contribute more than $1 billion to New Zealand’s export earnings.  They are big, impressive figures, but there is scope for much more to come.

Techweek ’18 will be upon us in May – a festival to showcase our expertise and encourage future generations to consider what is to come – and this year it is all about innovation that is good for the world.

That’s exactly what we are already doing in Christchurch in future transport but we are also realizing our potential in space and Antarctic exploration. 

We have been a gateway to the Antarctic since the 1900s but we now have a huge opportunity to leverage our position, thanks to technological change. 

We can lead the world on extreme environment navigation, equipment and R&D.

Christchurch is home to the inaugural New Zealand Space Challenge, bringing together some of the brightest minds from across the country to use space data and intelligence to solve navigation issues on the ice in the Antarctic.

This challenge culminates during the Techweek’18 Extreme Environments – from the Antarctic to Space conference, where local, national and international experts will further explore how the Antarctic is a dry run for Space exploration and the opportunities this generates.

This event is followed by a global Space Hackathon initiated by the French Space Agency and supported by the European Space Agency. 

Christchurch is one of 70 cities across five continents participating with the Centre for Space Science Technology and New Zealand Space Agency choosing to partner with ChristchurchNZ to deliver this event.

The hackathon – ActInSpace - brings together entrepreneurs, students, job seekers, developers and creatives worldwide to imagine and design innovative services and products that find everyday uses for space technologies or space data.

The winning Christchurch team will represent New Zealand at the international finals.

These are just a handful of examples of what is happening across our creative, connected and world class Christchurch tech sector.

We know technology affects us all and Techweek’18 is a festival for our businesses to showcase their enterprise, achievements and their contribution and ambition to address challenges and opportunities of global scale. 

There’s everything from robots and virtual reality to kids helping NASA prepare for life on Mars.  It is well worth a look so check out  Techweek ’18, 19-27 May.