From NZ to the US - giant market drives Kiwi tech surge

New Zealand's information and communications companies are driving the country's surging technology economy as it cuts swathes through the lucrative US market.

According to the latest Technology Investment Network (TIN) report - out this week - the ICT sector accounted for the largest share of revenue growth among the country's top 200 tech companies, which cracked the $10 billion mark in combined revenue for the first time in the 2017 financial year.

The report's "rising stars" category is dominated by ICT companies, which accounted for 13 of the 22 in the mix.

The Maori tech economy is on the rise, with five Maori companies appearing on this year's list of the country's top technology businesses.

The Waipareira Trust's John Tamihere sees this "sunrise industry" as having huge potential for Maori, both from a business and a community perspective.

According to the TIN Report, the five Maori-owned or Maori investment-backed companies contributed an estimated $93.9m of total revenue out of the 200 companies. There were also a breadth of Maori companies touted as future candidates for the TIN200 list.

Whānau Tahi, which is owned by the Waipareira Trust, was ranked the year's number one "hot emerging" company, with revenue growth of 176.7 per. It is the first time the company has appeared in the prestigious report.

The company provides community-based healthcare and other ICT services.

"With an expanded product offering and the intake of more talented staff following the acquisition, Whānau Tahi is well placed to continue growing and to gain a further foothold in overseas markets," the report says.

Waipareira Trust chief executive Tamihere says the company is delivering great benefits to the community while using what have proven to be successful business strategies.

"We've got an integrated service platform which is not only about health: it's about the education status of a family, the welfare status of a family, employment status and if there's any justice issues," he says.

"You then start to identify things that could create huge cost to a state by doing wrap-around services and then far more early intervention."

Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere says tech is a "sunrise industry" that offers huge opportunities for Maori companies. Photo / supplied

The Waipareira Trust saw that the technology was easily transferable to overseas markets and it has successfully started selling into the US market, including Atlanta's largest African American service provider, Families First.

Whānau Tahi is also in the process of signing up three native American tribes.

It is the first time the Maori tech economy has been included in the TIN Report, with the authors pointing out the significant impact Maori companies are having in the industry.

Tamihere says the technologies developed by Whānau Tahi and other Maori tech companies are "very liberating" tools for Maori.

"The world we know is changing and the thing is we've got to be in the sunrise of that change rather than the sunset of it.

"In other industries you've got to have significant capital, you've got to have significant know-how, significant networking and a whole range of other things ... So it's an easier industry - contrary to popular belief - to access and to give it a go."

It is important to "bring the magic" to the community and demonstrate that it's not "locked up in an ivory tower downtown somewhere", Tamihere says.

"There's only one way that we're going to get out of the negative indicators that we're locked into at the moment and that is to use every new methodology possible to break out. The digital platform - the digital world - is a sunrise industry and we have to start to populate the front end of it."

Source: NZherald.co.nz