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Cognitive Computing Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White

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New Zealand “Seed” Technology Firms Driving Big Innovation; Geeks on a Plane Investor Tour Participants See for Themselves

Rising in importance as a technology start-up cluster, New Zealand hosted “Geeks on a Plane,” an investment and technology tour for investors, startup founders, and corporate executives to learn about burgeoning technology markets worldwide. Organized by leading startup accelerator and seed fund “500 Startups,” representatives from Mohr Davidow Ventures, XG Ventures, General Electric, SoftTech VC, XG Ventures (managed by ex-Google executives), TechCrunch, and other venture capital and corporate organizations participated, amplifying recent Silicon Valley interest in New Zealand’s entrepreneurial business climate.

The focus of the “Geeks” tour was on the rapidly-growing Kiwi cluster of seed technology companies—niche firms advancing new ideas that solve big corporate and consumer problems.

In particular, New Zealand companies are becoming known for solutions for the cloud computing industry, developing user-friendly technology that has attracted clients including Nike, Boeing and Chrysler. New Zealand technology companies have made their mark internationally by focusing on solving problems in specific areas. A few examples include:

  • Network Security & Compliance: Auckland-based Mako Networks uses a cloud-managed system to help businesses secure their networks and comply with the stringent Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) for merchants that process, transmit or store cardholder data.
  • Enhancing the e-reading experience: Booktrack creates synchronized soundtracks for e-books that automatically match music, sound effects and ambient sound to your reading speed to create an immersive reading experience. The company works in partnership with the largest publishing houses, best-selling authors, and award-winning composers and musicians. Click here to learn more.
  • Promotional mobile apps and games: Taking advantage of the mobile applications development cluster in New Zealand, Kiwi companies Carnival Labs, a mobile marketing company, and PikPok, a digital publishing company, just launched a new game for OREO cookies. Both companies have worked for the world’s most prominent brands.

“U.S. companies are taking notice of the Kiwi tech cluster—to invest in, buy from and partner with companies born from our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” explains Marta Mager, Regional Director – North America for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the country’s business development agency. “This deepening engagement is creating innovative products that benefit both our economies.”

Business-friendly government policies nurture a fertile environment for innovation in New Zealand. New Zealand companies benefit from a 0 percent capital gains tax and a strong financial system that maintains a position of regional economic leadership throughout the global financial crisis.

According to The World Bank and International Finance Corporation's Doing Business 2013 report, released in October, New Zealand ranks as the easiest place to start a business out of 185 countries. Forbes also ranked New Zealand as the “Best Country for Business” in its annual ranking this year. Against the backdrop of a supportive government sector, start-ups are aided by a national network of internationally recognized technology incubators. For example, Auckland-based, The ICEHOUSE, was announced the co-winner of the Best Internationally Connecting Incubator at the most recent Annual Incubation Conference & Awards.

About New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

NZTE is New Zealand’s international business development agency. Our role is to help New Zealand businesses build strategic alliances and develop commercial relationships internationally.

Through a global network of 45 offices, we connect New Zealand businesses with the world, sharing opportunities, knowledge, experience and networks.

www.newzealand.com/business

About Geeks On A Plane – New Zealand

Organized by Silicon Valley venture capital firm 500 Startups, Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) is an invite-only tour for startups, investors, and executives to learn about burgeoning technology markets worldwide. The “geeks” travel by planes, trains, and automobiles to the most exciting international startup scenes with the sole mission of uniting geeks and exploring cross-border opportunities. The result: a lifelong bond with fellow travelers, a wealth of new friends and business contacts in exploding technology markets, and a stronger appreciation for the cultural and economic ties that bind us globally.

500 Startups was invited by NZTE to bring Geeks on a Plane to New Zealand from December 8-15, with tour stops in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown. The goal of GOAP is to explore New Zealand's early-stage technology ecosystem, learn about startups, share knowledge and experiences, and make lifelong connections. The "geeks" include entrepreneurs and executives from companies like LivingSocial, GE, TechCrunch, Cheezburger, SoftTech VC, Mohr Davidow Ventures, 500 Startups, and many others. For more information, visit geeksonaplane.com.

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