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Behind the cool cafes in Wellington reside some ascending hi-tech stars

Wellington is growing to be a cool place for hi-tech entrepreneurs seeking to spread their wings, judging by the concentration of companies that have surfaced on the radar of the finalists in the 2015 Hi-Tech awards.

This is in a sharp contrast to 2013’s extremely thumbs-down comment by prime minister John Key that “Wellington is dying, and we don’t know how to fix it.”

What’s working in Wellington includes a highly collaborative community of companies, being one of the top 20 most innovative cities on the Innovation Cities Asia Index, and having one of the most educated workforces in New Zealand.

Hi-tech rising stars

This accounts for the number of finalists in the Hi-Tech awards. Wellington’s IkeGPS, Mobi2go and Social Code, occupy three out of four finalist places in the UK Trade & Investment Innovative Hi-Tech Mobile Product category, with Wellington’s Xero announced as a finalists for PwC Hi-Tech Company of the year.

Other Wellington-based finalists and categories for 2015 are: Totara Learning, and Volpara Solutions, both finalists for Cisco Hi-Tech Emerging Company; Star Now, for Callaghan Innovation Best Technology Solution for the Creative Sector, and Mindscape, which is a finalist in two categories; Duncan Cotterill Innovative Hi-Tech Software Product and New Zealand Venture Investment Fund Hi-Tech Start-Up Company.

Finalists in the 2015 category of Grow Wellington Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service Company, sponsored by Grow Wellington, are StarshipIT, Straker Translations and WaterOutlook. Ben Richmond from Xero has been shortlisted for the Fronde Hi-Tech Young Achiever.

Grow Wellington 

No one is happier than Gerard Quinn, CEO of Grow Wellington, the economic development agency.

“Wellington has a collaborative community which aids technological innovation and creativity. The region has the most web-based and digital companies in New Zealand with many being internationally competitive,” says Quinn. “Wellingtonians are twice as likely as people in other cities to work in ICT.”

The finalists this year include technology businesses ranging from small startups, to multinationals with a wide range of products, reflecting Wellington’s diverse high-tech scene.

Last year, Grow Wellington stated that it would be focussing on helping Kiwi startups focus on value added business, especially those in the manufacturing sector.

It aims to help startups build intellectual property, especially those with a high component ICT in their design and development.

In 2012, Grow Wellington prioritised three sectors to strengthen: manufacturing, primary and ICT Screen, and digital.  Already a leader in screen and digital technology, Wellington is home to 60 percent of all post-production businesses in New Zealand.

Loves peanut sauce, tennis, taichi, stockmarkets, and cool entrepreneurs – not necessarily in that order. In her previous reincarnations, she was an intranet worker bee at Mercer HR Consulting, a Reuters worker ant, and a NZ Herald mule.

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