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Ten* After Ten: Weirdly’s Dale Clareburt on Kiwi start-up culture, the trouble with funding and the next ten years

Idealog: Have you been surprised by what has (or has not) changed in the last 10 years? Ten years ago, we were concerned about an economy based on agriculture and tourism. Has enough changed? 

Clareburt: It feels like we’re are just starting to see a shift towards New Zealand being more widely renowned for innovation. This is in film technology and innovation startups. It’s a fact that we are commercialising more startups out of the country than Australia and this is only growing. Of course I am bias to the startup news as that is the eco-system that Weirdly is a part of. 

Where are we headed over the next 10 years? 

New Zealanders will become world leaders in innovation in lots of areas. Other countries will look to us to solve world problems like climate change, poverty, disease and to make advances in technology. Particularly in agriculture and start up tech. But it will be us working and selling to them, we will not retain ownership of the products and services we create because we cannot afford to fund them.

We will continue to grow in the technical space.

What keeps you awake at night when you think about New Zealand’s place in the creative economy?

I wish we had access to more capital to fund the innovation that continues to grow out of New Zealand. What is disappointing is that although the innovation and subsequent execution of these ideas is growing and becoming more sophisticated, the access to minds behind the capital available are way too risk averse. They are stuck in an archaic model that doesn’t support the rate at with which the startup ecosystem is growing and commercialising. And so Kiwis are going elsewhere for the capital to grow. And this means that the New Zealand economy is missing out. I am worried that the gap between these two sides is growing wider, not narrowing. 

*Dodgy counting alert: Initially, we actually we asked 11 people, because we were worried not everyone would want to contribute. But everyone did. But “11 after 10” didn’t sound right. And then we liked those 11 answers so much, we kept asking people. Stay tuned for more over the summer months.

One of the talented Idealog Team Content Producers made this post happen.

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