Techweek Waikato 2019 hits the towns to celebrate regional innovation
Organisers of Techweek Waikato 19 are encouraging Waikato’s towns and communities to head to a local event to see the technology talent on offer in their own backyard, as the week-long tech showcase gets set to kick off later this month.
Running 20-26 May, Techweek Waikato 19 regional coordinator Jannat Maqbool says they’re taking technology on the road in an effort to engage Waikato’s smaller towns and communities with the innovative technology and talent being developed on our doorstep.
“The national Techweek theme is ‘innovation that’s good for the world’, and from our point of view, that means celebrating the exceptional tech talent we have close to home and taking it to people who might not otherwise have the chance to see it – whether that’s because they’re in a smaller community or they simply haven’t heard much about it.”
Michael Bassett-Foss, CEO Waikato’s regional economic development agency Te Waka, says when it comes to local tech development, there’s a lot for Waikato’s towns and communities to be proud of.
“Our region has been ranked the fastest growing tech region in New Zealand for the second year in a row in the Technology Investment Network (TIN) report, recording $119 million in regional revenue growth among our top tech companies in 2018, the largest growth rate in the country at 16.3%.
“This revenue hasn’t just come from our main centre, but is a combination of the innovation happening all around the region; places like Cambridge web design company Rocketspark, who have clients all around the world, and Raglan-based aerial robotics company Aeronavics – to name just a few.”
Maqbool says it’s important to know that Techweek isn’t just for “techies”.
“As Techweek becomes more successful each year, people from non-tech backgrounds are taking an interest – which is great to see. Our aim is to continue taking tech all around the region year after year, so that people outside of Hamilton get the chance to see what an amazing contribution our local industry is making around the world.”
There are 29 events on the agenda this month, and alongside events in Hamilton, several are booked in for Waikato’s towns, including Raglan, Cambridge, Matamata, Huntly, Tokoroa, and Coromandel Town.
Hamilton will host the major opening event, Live Local Work Global, on 20 May at Claudelands. Free to the public, attendees will be able to see and touch real-life examples of digital humans, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, drones, electric vehicles, facial recognition technology, virtual reality, and much more.
“There are a series of tech breakfasts in the towns, which will provide locals with the opportunity to hear from industry leaders and other technology and innovation speakers on issues specific to their location,” says Maqbool.
“For example Huntly’s breakfast will look at ways to bridge the digital divide, the Cambridge breakfast will look at ways to build regional tech capacity, and the Tokoroa event will inspire people to learn more about technology and how it can shape the future.”
A big focus for this year is encouraging young people to take an active interest in technology as the demand for digital skills grows.
“This year we’re also excited to host a series of after-school library roadshows, aimed just for our young people,” says Maqbool.
“The TechLeap after school library tour is where young students with an active interest in digital technology can get inspired and meet others like them. They’ll be able to look at some of the cutting-edge tech currently out there, collaborate with each other on projects, and get hands on with electronics and robotics.”
Maqbool says while Techweek is about celebrating technology, it’s also important to create opportunities for learning and collaboration.
“While we’re keen to make sure tech is celebrated, we also want to make sure it’s accessible to everyone, and that as many people as possible get the opportunity to interact with what’s out there.
“Our focus is also aligned with the Government’s vision for digital inclusion, which we’re supporting through a portfolio of work as part of the regional economic development programme.”
For more information on all the events taking place during Techweek Waikato 19, visit cultivateIT.nz/techweek.