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Latest TIN 100 report: Solid growth, but we need more women in tech

Healthcare is now Aotearoa’s biggest technology export sector. R & D spending is up 16 percent. Technology export revenues up 13.5 percent to nearly $7 billion per year. About 3,000 new jobs created. Annual revenues from 200 companies at $9.4 billion. A chance for technology to overtake dairying in terms of overall revenue.

Those were some of the key takeaways as the Technology Investment Network released its TIN 100 report yesterday. An audience of several hundred of the movers and shakers within New Zealand’s technology industry packed into the gilded galleys of Mantells on the Water along Auckland’s St Marys Bay for the unveiling of the report on Wednesday evening, which was followed by Spanish-themed canapés and a selection of drinks.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the report was that New Zealand’s leading 200 hi-tech companies have reached combined annual revenues of $9.4 billion – up 12 per cent in just one year. The numbers certainly had Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce, who spoke at the release, excited. “This year’s TIN 100 report tells an impressive story of innovation, growth and exporting success in New Zealand’s technology sector,” he said. “The collective export revenues of the 200 largest tech companies are up by 13.5 per cent from last year to nearly $7 billion, while the total number of employees has increased by 7.9 per cent in the past year with nearly 3,000 new jobs created. These 200 companies now employ almost 40,000 people.”

Joyce said the results showed New Zealand’s tech sector was robust. “It’s an emergingly strong tech sector,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realise how strong our tech sector is. We’ve seen a number of years of growth. The challenge for us now is to keep encouraging the growth. I think the industry will continue to grow until it reaches constraints. We need to figure out what those constraints are. We need to keep those things that make New Zealand desirable.”

Sustainable business growth and R & D investment were two areas that Joyce said were key areas of focus. “It’s particularly good to see that research and development across the TIN companies grew by a record 16 per cent in the last year to $827 million,” he said. “This is a real investment in the future of these companies, and will help lift overall the investment levels of New Zealand companies in research and development.”

Getting more women into – and to stay in – the industry was something that could be improved, however, Joyce said. “We need to keep encouraging our young women in tech,” he explained. “Firstly, it’s role models [to encourage people]. In the science sector, it’s people like [Dr] Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl). It’s the commercial sector, it’s the tech sector.”

TIN 100 managing director Greg Shanahan claimed the tech sector in New Zealand was a meritocracy, where the best people got the jobs and the best companies were making a difference. “The most exciting thing about technology is the CEOs don’t care about gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status,” he said. “They want the best people. It’s a total meritocracy. The CEOs aren’t doing it because of a political agenda. They need the very best people for a competitive advantage.”

Shanahan said he was impressed by the “culture of success” New Zealand companies had created. “It’s an organic thing that’s changing rapidly. It’s incredibly dependent on the imagination of the people in the industry.”

The TIN 100 report shows revenue growth across all regions of the Land of the Long White Cloud, with Wellington leading regional revenue growth at 15.3 percent. Auckland contributed the greatest proportion of revenue, at $5.4 billion.

The report also shows revenue growth across all three main tech sectors (high-tech manufacturing, ICT and biotech), and across all 12 secondary sectors. Healthcare is the largest secondary sector with annual revenue of $1.69 billion, while the digital media and financial services technology sectors, with a total of 23 companies, each grew by more than 20 percent.

Top performers include companies like Fisher and Paykel Appliances, Datacom Group, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Gallagher Group and Xero.

Shanahan said the report could be summed up in just seven words. “Success is now in our own hands.”

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