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Hi-Tech Awards: Against the gloom, an upbeat industry looks to the future

Peter Griffin, Editor. 27 June 2023, 10:28 am

In the modern splendour of Christchurch’s Te Pae Convention Centre, the tech sector came together to honour its most successful, impactful and inspiring companies and individuals on Friday.

Against a background of fractious election campaigning, the crisis in our universities and the country sinking into recession, technically at least, the NZ Hi-Tech Awards struck a distinctively upbeat tone.

It was the largest awards ceremony in the history of the Hi-Tech Awards, with 1,030 in attendance, including a roll call of the industry’s leaders and the country’s politicians. But it was also refreshing to see so many new names and a roster of emerging companies recognised, reinforcing that there’s plenty of renewal in the industry.

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A few key takeaways from my perspective from the back of the cavernous convention hall, seated with the team at Zenno Astronautics, yet another company doing very well in our burgeoning space technology sector.

Depth of experience and expertise

The breadth of the winners and finalists shows how New Zealand’s tech sector really has diversified, in terms of the types of companies we have. They ranged from crypto and agritech, to space tech, and the business Software as a Service (SaaS) companies that have served us so well when it comes to tech-related exports.

Dawn Aerospace, the Christchurch-based company making components for satellites and developing its own aircraft for delivering small satellites into orbit, won the Most Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product and Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year, showing the regard held for the start-up joining Rocket Lab and Zenno in space-related endeavours.

There were apparently more women nominated than ever before, which was great to hear. Janine Grainger’s win for the Most Inspiring Individual category recognised an entrepreneur helping others trying to carve their way in the daunting fintech space.

The award wins for Writer’s Toolbox and nominations for Kami served as a reminder that we have some great companies in the edtech space. Some great non-profit initiatives were recognisied, with Recycle a Device winning Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Public Good and Digital Future Aotearoa picking up Best Contribution to the NZ Tech Sector. Congratulations to ITP’s CEO Victora MacLennan for the role she has played in the success of both of those organisations.

Guy Haddleton, one of our most successful tech entrepreneurs ever, was a fitting winner of the Flying Kiwi Award, alongside his wife Sue, who sadly passed away last year. They were a true team in all of the business endeavours they tackled and generously gave back as investors, mentors, and philanthropists.

The big winner on the night, taking out the Hi-Tech Company of the Year Award, was Cin7, an inventory management software company that apparently now has 8,000 small and medium-sized customers worldwide. That’s an incredible achievement and the company seems destined for rapid growth as it looks to do for inventory management what Xero has done for small business accounting.

So congratulations to all the winners and to the Hi-Tech Trust and its partner Swaytech for putting on an inspiring and entertaining evening, after which half of the tech sector could be found up the street partying at iconic nightspot Fat Eddie’s.

The 2023 NZ Hi-Tech Award winners are:

Xero Hi-Tech Young Achiever

Winner: Fraser Paine

Spark Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Public Good

Winner: Recycle a Device

IBM Most Inspiring Individual

Winner: Janine Grainger

Tataki Auckland Unlimited Most Innovative Hi-Tech Creative Technology Solution

Winner: Writer’s Toolbox

Callaghan Innovation/Poutama Trust Hi-Tech Māori Company of the Year

Winner: AskNicely

Duncan Cotterill Most Innovative Hi-Tech Software Solution

Winner: Formus Labs

Braemac Most Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product

Winner: Dawn Aerospace

Kiwibank Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service

Winner: Tend Health

Highly Commended: Orion Health

NZTE Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution

Winner: Halter

Consult Recruitment Best Contribution to the NZ Tech Sector

Winner: Digital Future Aotearoa

Punakaiki Fund Hi-Tech Start-up Company of the Year

Winner: Zerojet

ASX Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year

Winner: Dawn Aerospace

Highly Commended: Halter

Soul Machines Most Innovative Deep Tech Solution

Winner: Formus Labs

PwC NZ Hi-Tech Company of the Year Award

Winner: Cin7

Tait Communications Flying Kiwi Award

Recipients: Guy & Sue Haddleton


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