New Zealand is missing a trick when it comes to the startup weekend, incubator, accelerator programme ecosystem that’s got lots of attention lately.
And sure, I can appreciate how the digital side of things is extremely quick at developing and validating a business through processes such as Lightning Lab.
Where I wonder if we’re underplaying to one of our strengths, is in the biology/technology economy (the analogue economy perhaps?).
What would be the new research and commercialisation projects if we had fired up scientists, engineers, manufacturers, hands-on finance and distribution people, digital experts and some other odd and even people hothoused in a similar way to the incubator models?
How much learning, cross-fertilisation and ‘ideas-worth-pursuing’ could we generate?
Would the intersection of different peoples’ thinking create new opportunities?
The answer is surely it would.
But still, you’ve got to wonder whether the gift that mother nature has given us to produce biological raw materials isn’t being leveraged to anywhere near the extent we can and should be doing.
As far as I’m aware, there’s no forum that brings a width of sector participants together to collaboratively cook up new schemes.
Obviously, the dairy, meat, wool, forestry, and fishing sectors have their conferences – but they tend to be only mildly looking-over-the-horizon talk fests.
It is rare that people come away from such events with the attitude “I didn’t realise that,” or “I wonder if there’s an opportunity with…”
Now, the last thing I’m suggesting is our country should be either digital or analogue; we should do both, and both should and do inform each other.
Examples include TracMap, started by a former Wrightson colleague Colin Brown – which has expanded from using GPS and other clever computing to expand from helping fertiliser to be applied more accurately, to a range of markets under the heading ‘Situation awareness made easy’.
In fact there’s any number of digital/analogue connections for New Zealand’s primary industry – as evidenced at last year’s initial mobile tech forum.
However, we’re less good at the market end, adding value in areas such as functional foods, or ramping up the use of wood fibre as a multi-talented resource.
I appreciate I’m merely stating the problem without coming up with many answers.
But, how can we as self-described inventive Kiwis, create and explore biological/technologydigital opportunities better; much better?