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Idealog Year in Review: David Downs

In the latest edition of our series asking some of Aotearoa's best-known businesspeople and visionaries to take a step back and offer their insights on how the past year has gone and how the future might unfold, we chat with co-author of innovation book No. 8 Re-Wired, general manager, services, at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Idealog's resident business agony uncle David Downs.

Favourite innovation that isn't yours?

The crowdfunded purchase of Awaroa beach in the South Island. While not a ‘techy’ innovation, I think it is a great example of how new ways of thinking / interacting (crowd funding) can lead to a really innovative outcome – ‘we the people’ bought a beach! Innovation is about news ways of thing – this is a great example.

Listen to this podcast with David Downs and Idealog publisher and editorial director Ben Fahy:

Favourite innovation that is yours?

My son and I built a wood burning pizza oven in the garden. Its not finished yet, might not ever get that final layer, but I can confirm it does work!

Most interesting launch/innovation/trend/thing of the year?

The launch of the new iPhone. Mainly because it seems Apple seem to be really ignoring their users – removing the headphone slot?? What are they thinking!

Lamest launch/innovation/trend/thing of the year?

If you ask my 15 year old son, that would have to the rise of ‘The Dab’ – it’s really caught on with some kids, but I think there is an age limit. Apparently it’s embarrassing when a 46 year old dad does it at a school disco (who knew?!)

Most promising New Zealand company/companies?

Wow – too many to name. 90 Seconds TV would be a key one to watch, with their injection of capital from Sequoia they are really going places fast. Check out ridethewave.video to see their journey

Heroes?

Dr Michelle Dickinson (AKA Nanogirl) – over the past month she has educated and entertained thousands of kids, getting them enthusiastic and interested in science and technology. In 10 years’ time our innovators of the future will see that intervention as a key part of their decision to the amazing things they’ll be doing.

Check out this podcast with Idealog publisher-at-large Vincent Heeringa and Dr Michelle Dickinson:

Villains?

The tens of millions of US citizens who voted to go backwards about 60 years.

Best stoush?

Brexit – Britain versus Europe where winning meant wiping billions off the national value of the Brits. The biggest pyrrhic victory of a democratic process ever.

Your own biggest success?

I managed to travel to Wellington around 45 times this year and not have a flight cancelled. Delayed, yes, but not cancelled. 

What’s the biggest mistake innovators/businesses will make in 2017?

Falling in love with their own products and solutions, instead of the problem they are trying to solve. 

What do you expect to see in the next five years?

Apple will release the iJack – a small hole in their latest iPhone where you can plug ‘wired remote listening devices’.

What will be dead in the next five years?

Phones without headphone jacks.

What should be invented and/or un-invented?

Invented – hangover proof alcohol. Can we get that by Christmas eve please?

Favourite book/TV show/podcast/album/website/magazine/story/performance enhancing drug of the year?

I like a bit of escapism, so my wife and I have been watching an American political action thriller series on Netflix called ‘Designated Survivor’. Its about how an unqualified and inept person become President.  It may be a reality show.

One piece of tech you’d have on a desert island?

Does Sunscreen count? If not, then one of those new large iPads – not to turn on, but to use as shade.

Will the robots become sentient and kill us all? (asking for a friend)

I don’t think they will ever kill us all; we’ll more be kept as drone workers – we will be forced to spend hours in front of screens, typing endlessly, replying to messages and emails, checking websites, walking around in a daze, watching our phones constantly… hang on, sounds like it might have already happened. Damn you robot overlords!

As you’re enjoying the great outdoors this summer, The Kiwibank Conservation Dogs will be out there too, hard at work, giving our nature a future.