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Why a New Zealand connection helps our tech innovators stand out from the crowd

22 May 2018
By Sarah Morgan
01CWNZS NZS 9421
Credit / Chris Williams, New Zealand Story

Name ten New Zealand technology entrepreneurs.

It’s a challenge – and not because we’re lacking the talent. We split the atom, invented the electric fence, created the disposable syringe. We’re not short of successful innovators. It’s just not in our country’s nature to be loud and proud about what we do.

Consequently, it’s not always typical for New Zealand technology and innovation exporters to use their country of origin values – trust, honesty, integrity, creativity – as leverage to grow their business. But here’s three quick reasons why they absolutely should.

1. A BOOMING TECH SECTOR

New Zealand's technology sector has become the country's third biggest export sector behind dairy and tourism. The tech sector’s top 200 companies generated $10 billion in sales in the past year, making it the third largest sector behind tourism and dairy – but ahead of New Zealand stalwarts forestry and meat. Technology is our fastest growing sector, which is encouraging given the exponentially-growing global demand. It also provides evidence of the depth of talent and success New Zealand can claim offshore. As the industry continues its massive growth spurt, many eyes will be on us.

2. STAND OUT

Being from New Zealand gives entrepreneurs a point of difference. The tech sector is massively competitive so finding credible reasons to be different is critical. For New Zealand tech companies, the real value is in the intelligence of the people behind the design, our integrity as a nation and the way we do business: we’re straight shooting, pragmatic and hard working. Also, we’re super friendly: we’re among the most transparent countries to do business with, and we’re ranked number one in the 2017 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.

3. A LONG HISTORY OF INGENUITY

We have a long and proud history of ingenuity: from Richard Pearse’s powered flight to the flying boats of the America’s Cup we have always flown higher than Kiwis should. Tech companies can leverage this reputation. We’re the nation that produced Rocket Lab, for goodness sake!

All these attributes are represented by our iconic national silver fern trademark known as the FernMark – it’s the official mark of authenticity that attests to the unique New Zealand IP. The FernMark translates all these cultural attributes into a simple, recognisable emblem that’s distinctively Kiwi for customers to identify in-market.

Tech company Fingermark uses the FernMark as leverage in-market. CEO Luke Irving says Fingermark’s export triumphs are the result of a New Zealand flair for problem solving. To mark that Kiwi spirit, the brand uses the FernMark country of origin logo in its marketing and branding.

"It’s the easiest way to explain your origins. The fern epitomises New Zealand and New Zealanders."

"It sets us apart from other entrepreneurs because anyone can come up with a ‘bleeding edge’ business idea, but Kiwis are great at taking an idea and scaling it for multiple markets."

Like other bearers of the FernMark, Fingermark get that New Zealand’s location on the globe means global thinking and memorable icons are an effective combo.

Consumers also take country of origin pretty seriously when they’re buying. A 2016 Nielson Global Brand Origin Survey found 75 percent of people thought country of origin was a bigger purchasing factor than nine other drivers like selection, choice, price, function or quality. Evidently, ‘Kiwi-made’ should be put front and centre.

NZTE General Manager, David Downs and Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) also articulated the value of promoting New Zealand Inc in technology, telling Idealog magazine that “…there is an opportunity in being identified as a technology company from New Zealand. There’s an individual benefit – and in the long run, a collective benefit – to be gained. It’s not enough to say, ‘we’re innovative’, or ‘our products speak for themselves’. It is table stakes that any tech company is innovative, and that you have products to sell."

"The unfair advantage you can bring to the table is the power of a collective story.”

That collective story is in the many international benchmarks and studies where New Zealand never ceases to punch above its weight. We’re making our mark, and our reputation as a country is well established and the halo effect from the positive associations people make with New Zealand for technology and innovation exporters is invaluable.

Kiwi entrepreneurs in this sector must be ‘honestly Kiwi’ and truly leverage their roots when they do business. The world loves our ingenious inventions, our integrity and our trustworthy natures – so let’s communicate that as our unique difference in-market. If we all tell our New Zealand story consistently, we’ll collectively continue to grow both our prominence in the sector and our nation’s success.

Read how you can give your products a competitive edge by leveraging your Kiwi ingenuity overseas with the #FernMark.