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Innovation Heroes: David Woods

Scott Houston, David Woods, Peter Beck and Frances Valintine will share their tales of the highs and lows of building businesses, and advocating for innovation.

Idealog, of course, will be there to write it up. Today, we meet David Woods, chief executive of Precision Seafood Harvesting, crowned Supreme New Zealand Innovator at the New Zealand Innovators Awards 2014.


Innovation Heroes 2015 – Dave Woods, Precision Seafood Harvesting from NZ Innovation Council on Vimeo.

What traits do you think make somebody innovative?

You’ve got to look at the world around you and recognise that there are problems, and then have the ability to start thinking of solutions. It’s really that simple. Then, you have to not just think about the ideas, but get out there and do them.

I think situations can create innovators, where just the necessity of seeing a problem that’s either going to crush you or create you, will make you think about ways to get out of that situation.

What is one major challenge you have faced?

Bringing some of our innovations through to commercial reality. We got excited about the innovation and then, of course, you go down the road to commercialisation and there are a lot of hiccups. There are certain areas where you think, “Well, we wasted some time there and we could have done that a little better.”

What is your driving purpose?

I want to improve the commercial fishing sector in New Zealand and improve our performance in sustainability. We’ve taken tremendous public criticism about juvenile mortality and bycatch mortality. We’re not happy with that. We think we can do better, and we’re out there investing in ways to do it better.

What and who have been the biggest influencers on you becoming innovative?

My family, my schooling, and the culture of the fishing industry that I decided to go with. I have had close to 30 years in the fishing industry now. If you have spent 30 years in an industry and not seen problems that require solving, you are probably not innovative.

But there’s a tremendous number of people out there I would class as more innovative than me. I just happen to be in the box seat at the moment, with a tremendously good team and vital innovation for the New Zealand seafood sector.

What are the key ingredients that got you to where you are today?

I think the ability to focus is key to taking innovation through to a commercial level. There’s an old adage that nothing killed a good idea faster than the next good idea, and there are a lot of people out there that continually are overwhelmed by good ideas. They struggle with innovation that they can’t focus and take through to its conclusion.

I would say passion about what you’re doing is critical. You definitely need to believe in what you’re doing to get over some of the hurdles that you’ll find along the commercial route.

How important do you think innovation is to New Zealand, compared to the rest of the world?

It is absolutely crucial. There’s just no way New Zealand will survive in the global economy without points of difference. Those points of difference are not going to come by following. We have to stay different from people, have fresh ideas, and reinvent ourselves on a regular basis.


This is your chance to mix with a new wave of innovative companies and experience a fine range of kiwi beverages and canapés | 5:00pm – 7:30pm.



For group booking discounts (10+) please contact Andy Blackburn: 09 636 8269, or [email protected]

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