Thanks to a quick-witted government, compliant population and geographical fortitude, Aotearoa New Zealand (Aotearoa is the nation’s Maori name) has suffered the effects of COVID-19 less than perhaps any other developed economy on earth. Businesses are open, workers are heading to the office – and the country’s budding startup scene is pushing on with—domestically at least—little headwind.
According to a 2020 report by NZTech, a trade body, Aotearoa New Zealand was home to almost 20,000 tech companies in 2019, up 3% from 2018, employing just under 115,000 staff (of a nationwide workforce of 2.7m). Today tech contributes around 8% of the country’s GDP – a significant level given its infancy. Kiwi tech exports are growing at a 15% CAGR. So fast has tech grown that startups are struggling to find the right hires – something the coronavirus crisis has worsened.
Given its location in the Pacific Ocean, straddling antarctic and tropical climates, it’s unsurprising that biotech firms comprise a large number of Aotearoa New Zealand’s tech startups.
Yet fintech is the nation’s fastest-growing tech sector. Its $241m revenue represents over a quarter of tech’s output on the islands. With more and more companies eyeing relocations due to the pandemic or political instability, expect Kiwi tech to become a lot more prominent.
But which three companies stand out more than the rest? It’s a tough task, but here is a trio of firms doing interesting things, to look out for this strange and promising year.
Founded in 2015, Auckland’s PredictHQ is a B2B demand intelligence brand that has raised $33.5m, and has large-scale clients including Domino’s, Uber and Booking.com under its belt. Founders Campbell Brown and Rob Kern have pivoted to helping multinationals spearhead their emergence from COVID-19, doing things such as forecasting live sports TV to help food outlets get back in the black.
Halter is a smart collar for cows – a good bet for a country with a high level of livestock per capita (there are roughly 6.11m bovines and 5m humans in Aotearoa New Zealand). The solar-powered and mobile-commanded wearables help farmers remotely fence their stock, and keep track of key metrics including when a cow is in heat. It allows farmers to hold cows without fences, draw invisible lines around their land, and streamline the dairy and meat industries at scale.
Hamilton, Waikato-based Nyriad has raised a shade under $24m since its 2014 founding. The firm uses leading-edge tech to help businesses manage their data storage needs, developing a “unique software architecture which enables their High-Performance Storage Controller to take advantage of the unique processing characteristics of the CPU and GPU.”