24 Sep 2013

NZ businesses look for cup boon

6:56 am on 24 September 2013

New Zealand businesses and organisations have been using the America's Cup regatta in San Francisco as a springboard to doing business with kiwi companies.

Auckland, Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) chief executive Brett O'Riley said he had been pushing the proposition that Auckland would be the world's leading technology test-bed city.

"The combination of our multi-cultural population, the ease of doing business in New Zealand, the geography of Auckland and the inventive nature of New Zealand companies, we think combines into a pretty interesting proposition," Mr O'Riley said.

"We've been delighted with the feedback we've received from companies that we've been talking to in the Silicon Valley and in San Francisco over the last few weeks."

ATEED had been talking to companies such as Google, Samsung and Intel, as well as to Silicon Valley investors about their interest in local Auckland companies, he said.

"We've been talking to some companies who are interested in getting entry into Asia, into the Australia and New Zealand market. They see Auckland as very attractive (and they're) very interested in New Zealand's free trade agreement with China.

"So we've set ourselves some goals for this trip. One of those was to get $20 million of inbound investment into Auckland, and we believe we'll hit that target."

Hospitality helps

New Zealand software firm Pingar GP has an office in Silicon Valley and co-founder and managing director Peter Wren-Hilton said it had been taking clients to America's Cup events.

"For us, it has been a really good way of profiling not simply what we do but New Zealand technology in general," Mr Wren-Hilton said.

"I think that's been one of the real strengths of the America's Cup - it's just a great example of kiwi innovation.

"It has possibly reinforced some of the existing businesses we've already got. We've been bringing existing partners along, where we already have relationships, and what we're hoping, clearly, is those relationships will have deepened and good kiwi hospitality - food and wine - always helps."

Taking wine to USA

New Zealand Winegrowers global marketing director of Chris Yorke said it was a struggle to bring American wine writers and the wine trade to New Zealand, so it had brought New Zealand to America through the Cup.

"The US is currently our second-largest market for exports - it's just overtaken the UK, which was our second-largest.

"We think this will be our number one market in the next five to 10 years, so it's very important for us."

It was easier to take the wine to Americans in the US than to get them to come to New Zealand to drink it, as most Americans had only two weeks' holiday a year, Mr Yorke said.

"We're asking them to come to San Francisco for two days, and that's been a lot easier," he said.