18 Nov 2023

New government will clear path for tech companies - Collins

10:03 am on 18 November 2023
Laptop and smartphone on wooden table.

File photo. Photo: 123rf

The tech sector is being assured the incoming government will clear away hurdles holding back innovation and growth.

National party spokesperson for direct foreign investment and for science, innovation and technology Judith Collins told an annual awards gathering of the top 200 export-earning technology companies this week that more would be done to encourage growth.

The sector would get the government help it needed to attract foreign investment, address skills shortages and remove other barriers to innovation, Collins said.

The Technology Investment Network (TIN) top 200 company report indicated the tech sector earned $17.1 billion in export dollars in the year ended in June.

"Thank you very much, because we really need the money," Collins said in the speech to tech sector leaders.

Among the concerns raised by the report was a critical skills shortage, leading more companies to focus expansion on overseas markets, rather than in New Zealand.

While total staff numbers for the Top 200 rose 3.1 percent in the 2022 calendar year, New Zealand lost 193 positions, while overseas-based jobs grew by 2127.

This was despite paying an above average annual wage of nearly $100,000.

Judith Collins

Judith Collins has promised to remove obstacles to growth in the tech sector. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"Tech sector salaries continue to outpace the New Zealand average and the growth of the tech sector is not just improving lives for those who work in it, but actually increases the productivity for the entire economy," she said.

"When we consider our urgent need to improve productivity, tech workers deliver more bang for the dollar."

The sector needed government help to remove barriers to growth, Collins said.

"(Tech companies) need people, they need talent, they need money and the capital, and they need markets," she said.

"We are actually a nation of startups, and we need to be a nation of scale-ups. And if we aren't global we aren't really relevant."

New Zealand's economy would not grow to scale without direct foreign investment, considering our relatively small population of five million, Collins said.

Productivity could be improved by easing regulations that stifled innovation, she said.

"One of the things that we're doing is we are adopting the technologies of gene-editing, which will be very helpful to the ag-tech sector.

"And also artificial intelligence, which we... absolutely need to adopt ... and to also enable us to digitise government . . . we just have to do it."

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