Auckland’s inaugural Techweek AKL surpassed all expectations, magnifying the New Zealand city’s growing tech sector, including a burgeoning augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) knowledge hub.

The event, which took place in May, was delivered by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), with a focus on design, innovation and technology. It was timed to coincide with, and leverage off, the Tripartite Economic Summit in Auckland, an event which brought politicians, and business and investor delegations from Auckland’s sister cities – Los Angeles and Guangzhou.

ATEED Chief Executive Brett O’Riley said: “We view business events as part of an integrated economic development process. These events have to generate longer-term economic benefits. For four years we have been looking at what sort of event we could hold to position Auckland as an innovation hub of Asia Pacific. Our initial challenge was to have 20 events over Techweek, but at last count we had more than 60 events, and about 10,000-12,000 attendees. For a first start that was fantastic.

“It allowed us to amplify a number of sectors where we are leading. Probably the most surprising event was ‘Magnify’ which focuses on AR and VR technology. That symposium attracted 1,200 delegates over two days and had to be split into two cohorts. Off the back of that, we are now looking at the possibility of taking Magnify to Chicago in November to coincide with when (New Zealand national rugby team) the All Blacks play, and potentially to China during the China Cup sailing event. It really points to that fact that if a city uses the right business events platform, it is amazing what they can create,” he said.

“Already there has been $30m of direct investment signed up off the back of the Tripartite Summit – and I know already it’s bigger than that. A number of delegates have already been back to discuss business. This really maximises opportunity. Entrepreneurs were coming out of the woodwork – it was a real magnet for innovation talent and investors. It was a win-win in about every box I could tick.”

Auckland has a growing tech and innovation precinct, GridAKL, based in the central city’s Wynyard Quarter. Some 12 per cent of the city’s business population are now employed in advanced industries, with key sector strengths including screen and digital, medical technology, high value foods and big data. There are some 6,500 innovation-based companies in the city, a 30 per cent increase from 2009.

The city is set to host leading wireless power conference, the 2nd IEEE Southern Power Electronics Conference (SPEC) 2016 in December, attracted largely due to the University of Auckland’s world-leading wireless power department, and its spin-off company PowerbyProxi.


Featured image: Virtual reality at Magnify, Techweek AKL 2016 (Credit: Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development 2016)