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Memia Zeitgeist 2014 -> 2015 #2: Christchurch Re-imagined and Rebuilt

Following on from last week’s Zeitgeist post about the advances in the New Zealand tech industry, here are some reflections on another major theme affecting us for the last few years: how our home city of Christchurch continues to adapt to the life-changing events of 2011.

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2014 was year 3 of living with the [less frequent!] aftershocks and aftereffects of the 2010-2011 earthquakes.

IMG_20140510_144015Having just returned from a trip around to the UK on the other side of the world, it hit home that Christchurch is a globally unique place to be living right now. Nowhere is there a bigger concentration of (nearly finished…?) demolition, construction, digging up roads, new businesses opening up and a plain dogged, determined energy to move forward. It has its ups and downs, and certainly it’s been a year of progress – if frustratingly slow at times.

We now live with a skyline dotted with cranes – a new one goes up every week!

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The Hagley Cricket Oval is completed and ready to host the Cricket World Cup in just a few weeks’ time.

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Anchor projects including the Justice & Emergency Services Precinctjustice-precinct-01-655 Retail Precincttriangle2 Canterbury Integrated Government Accommodation (CIGA)cashel-st-145-govt-accommodation-artist-impressionBus Exchange, bus-interchange-interior-entrance are all now being built and the White Elephant  Convention Centre  concept drawings are out and construction could be due to start this year. christchurch-convention-centre-precinct-city

Not to be outdone, the private sector has generally kicked into gear with many new buildings being built during 2014. Unfortunately Anthony Gough’s The Terrace project is stalled – when will this get sorted? render-3.2000 Notable private sector buildings are starting to shape the identity of our new city as well:  Stranges Building strangeslane , 151 Cambridge Terrace (lucky Deloitte!) and a few others up around Victoria Street. 151cambridge

If you haven’t already, you can use the CCDU Progress Map  to check out all the new projects as they are announced and progressed.

Gotta say I’m a bit disappointed that the Eastern Frame isn’t going to be so green as originally envisioned – we’re losing an opportunity to provide a future long term asset for the city…

On the home front, after almost total radio silence there were a few developments relating to the Innovation Precinct towards the end of the year. Firstly great news that Memia’s home EPIC has had the lease extended from 5 years to 12 by the land owner Christchurch City Council – this now gives the EPIC board the opportunity to plan long term for embedding EPIC into the local innovation ecosystem. EPIChub.serendipityThumb

Also nice to see building commitments from Vodafone,   voda Kathmandu New-Kathmandu NZ-officeand – just before Christmas – Wynyard Group to set up home inside the Innovation Precinct. wynyardAlso CDC’s new Innovation Hub is being built in the old Twisted Hop building, and will include next year’s Lightning Lab programme (as well as the new Dux De Lux!).

Message to the owners of “heritage” buildings in the neighbourhood: frankly it’s just depressing looking at the wreckage of your derelict bombsites outside our office every day. It’s just bricks and mortar, is it really worth spending millions (of whose money?!) on saving…? Either knock these old buildings down quickly or spend some money to hide them from sight please! We need an end to the moratorium on heritage buildings – a clear deadline date after which they either get funded or get cleared.

Other miscellaneous #Chch happenings that floated my boat last year included:

– the RISE Oi You! Street Art Festival (awesome effort from all involved – including Canterbury Museum – with fantastic murals now positioned all around the city) and to be repeated again in 2015.

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– Great coffee: having just returned from a trip to the UK where the coffee is *truly awful*, it makes you appreciate having the likes of C1C4 and Caffeine Laboratory on your doorstep.c4coffee C4-Tuam-st-Cafe-from-office c1 espresso sticker

– Great beer: Cassels Best Bitter is my regular after-work refreshment but we’ve been spoiled for choice for hoppy New Zealand IPAs over the last year.

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– As mentioned in my previous post Mark Sagar’s demonstration of BabyX to TEDxChristchurch  was mind blowing. Bleeding edge AI happening right here in NZ. Kaila Colbin and the team are doing a great job curating TEDxChch for the 5th year running!

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– Waltham Pool reopening just a few days ago after 4 years out of commission. Our Spreydon-Heathcote Ward Councillors Phil Clearwater and Tim Scandrett making good on their election manifesto promises. First-term politicians who deliver, nice.

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– Speaking of the Council, it’s great to see Mayor Lianne Dalziel and 2IC Raf Manji start to think big about our city’s future. More like this please. Which leads me to…

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– The establishment of the Committee for Canterbury – boy do we need a voice to start thinking long term past the earthquake recovery, this is it.

– The continuing [apparent] competence of our present government to keep New Zealand’s economic growth above the line. Whatever your politics and the many naysayers may think, the numbers don’t lie: John Key, Bill English and crew are sure footed business professionals who continue to steer the country towards better prosperity. Another 3 years please, but at the same time do something about the most extreme poverty that’s still there, AND invest some more in the conservation estate please….

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– (And finally, hot off the press, just got back from seeing Delaney Davidson at…) LIVE at the Point in Diamond Harbour – amazing views, chilled sounds, great acts. 3 more Sunday afternoon gigs to go, get there on the ferry.

So this is an increasingly good place to live after the earthquakes hit in 2010-2011 – time will tell if this momentum can be maintained…

Next up: Memia Zeitgeist 2014-2015 #3: Three Major Tech Trends to watch

 

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Memia Zeitgeist 2014 -> 2015 #1: New Zealand Tech Industry Growth

Time flies when you’re head down, bum up…

As with many people in Christchurch – and the NZ tech industry particularly – 2014 was a year of relentless workload. The triple dynamics of the post-earthquake rebuild, increased capital available to local tech companies plus a constrained resource pool meant lots of extra hours put in to sustain momentum. Looking back it’s pretty satisfying to see how much was achieved in 2014, but also daunting the amount of work that’s stacking up ahead. A big thank you to all of Memia’s customers, partners and friends for your business, support and company during the  last year!

For the last few years I’ve managed to write an end-of-year round up blog post before heading off on the traditional Kiwi beach holiday – but this year unfortunately I didn’t make deadline before summer [=winter…sigh] holiday travels to the UK. However, better late than never, here’s the first of four linktastic posts on all things zeitgeist 2014->2015 . Something for everyone. Enjoy. 😉

[My good friend @benbodley passed comment that the blog has been “sparse” last year (“…eat your own dogs**t” I think was the exact phrase…) – so best intentions, will try to be more prolific this year…]

New Zealand’s Tech Industry Continues To Grow Strongly

2014 saw continued growth in the revenues and capital base of NZ’s tech sector. According to NZTech ICT alone accounts for 5% of GDP, more than 73,000 jobs and growth of 16.5% pa – with Canterbury’s scene particularly vibrant.

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2014 saw a procession of software and tech companies floating on the NZX – SerkoIkeGPS, ERoad, GenTrack, Vista Group and finishing with Orion Health finally floating – raising $120m for a growth round in their oversubscribed IPO.

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Next up in 2014 is likely to be Wherescape (?) and Inventory Technologies Ltd (formerly Clever Medkits – reverse listing imminent).

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Meanwhile investments in 2013’s tech IPOs Wynyard Group and SLI Systems ended slightly down but steady on a year ago,  wynyardlogo SLI-Systems-new-logo-design-e-commerce-retail-2largely following NZ tech sector bellwether Xero’s rollercoaster ride – lots of banter flying around as to how successful Xero xerologo-opengraphwill  be taking on Intuit in the US – however the company continues to execute on its growth targets hitting 400,000 customers in December and with YoY subscription revenue growth now at 85%. Question is: has the share price now hit the bottom and is it time to get back in?! With a NASDAQ listing still in the pipeline, the company continues to mature. An amazing achievement by @roddrury and all of the management team which leads the way for others to follow. Just the other day there was a solid article looking at Xero’s metrics by SaaS-focused VC @ttunguz, worth a read.

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One other notable success was @lancewiggs who hunkered down and just got on with Punakaiki Fund after the aborted IPO attempt last year. The fund managed to raise $1.5M in a private offering and another $1.5M in November from existing investors.

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At the end of the year the fund is invested in four companies: Timely, Mindscape (@jdtrask doing an amazing job growing Raygun.io), InfluxHQ and Vibe Communications and added a December round for others to come in at $25K a pop.

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Just a couple of other notable mentions of cutting edge tech capability here in NZ – firstly holographic virtual reality platform 8i raised several private rounds of funding and look like they’re hiring like crazy – I was lucky enough to have a try out of their early product on Oculus Rift – mind blowing stuff. Watch this space.

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The other is Mark Sagar and his team‘s ongoing development of BabyX and the underlying AI models – watch this video of his presentation to TEDxChristchurch in 2014 and see the future. I can think of 1001 commercial applications already….

 

Christchurch Tech Scene

2014 was a year of continued growth and development in the Christchurch technology industry scene.

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First up in March was Christchurch Startup Weekend – a well organised and attended event held at EPIC which was a major investment into our startup ecosystem. Nearly 100 participants formed teams and developed 6 startup pitches in just 54 hours!

I’m looking forward to this year’s event in May 2015 as well – Memia is a sponsor.

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There was good representation and a full house at the annual New Zealand High Tech Awards, held in Canterbury for the first time since the earthquakes – it was a great night out and congratulations to all the winners – especially Doug Willems of Delta Strike International from Christchurch.

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Also back in May Memia and Sourced launched the FLUX report – an in-depth profile of the Canterbury Technology sector in 2014. As part of researching the report we generated an open database of over 500 businesses and organisations working in our region’s technology cluster – we also published a giant poster infographic which you may have seen on walls over the year – what the FLUX database shows is just how broad and mature the technology cluster is here in Christchurch – something to be nurtured and developed further in coming years… We are looking forward to taking FLUX forward in 2015, including placing the database online and adding some more cool infographics into the mix – watch this space…

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It was another successful year for the Canterbury Software Cluster – again lots of well-attended regular monthly events, together with the Full Throttle 2014 Software Summit held at Wigram Airbase in October with international speakers and a growing software industry tradeshow – great to see the sector continue to be in good health.

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One of the speakers at the Summit was Michael Trengrove, co-founder of CodeClub Aotearoa. This is a volunteer foundation dedicated to teaching young children how to explore software in after-school code clubs – a great effort from all of the founding team in 2014 and establishing the movement nationally: watch out for further success in 2015!

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Also established this year is a new early-stage investment network for the region – Canterbury Angels. This group has built great links already with other angel networks throughout New Zealand and all being well will hold the first investment pitch night in the first quarter of 2015, followed by ongoing speaker and investment events throughout the year. Sign up to join the mailing list!

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It’s been good to see CDC ramping up its investment in local innovation – the relaunched High Growth Launch Programme (HGLP)

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was a success at the end of the year and looking forward to this year’s Christchurch LightningLab programme.

 

Ones to watch

In terms of fast-growing local tech businesses worth watching, here are just a few that I know have had great years in 2014: Jade Software (really enjoyed being part of the judging panel at December’s Thinkubator event. Great looking website too…), Aranz Geo, Smudge, CleverMedKits (now Inventory Tech Ltd), iViis, goRoster, Debtor DaddyTrineo and Redseed. Apologies if I’ve left you off the list – let me know!

redseed goroster debtordaddy_logo_smalliviis-know-your-business-now trineo-logo smudge ARANZ-Geo-logo jade-software thinkubator

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Next post: Memia Zeitgeist 2014-2015 #2: Christchurch Re-imagined and Rebuilt