The University of Auckland Business School runs a competition called the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge in which small NZ companies compete for capital funding from an endowment pool of $3 million. They are evaluated on their growth potential, especially in terms of overseas expansion.

This year, the ten finalists cover the spectrum in terms of the products or services they deliver — regenerative tissue substitutes used in plastic surgery, biomedical research tools, ‘best yoghurt in the world’, biological-based pesticides, sportswear (for boarders), on-road lighting, specialist water technology services, bio-informatics software, advanced operations research, and collaborative e-procurement networking software.

Reading through the descriptions of these companies, I found myself thinking … each of these companies could do right here in Hawke’s Bay what they now do in Wellington or Auckland (and in one case, Blenheim and Timaru). Why? Because they are knowledge-based companies.

They’re based upon brainpower, which could live anywhere … or at least anywhere with high speed internet access. Of course, if exporting is part of the picture, and face-to-face negotiation is still occasionally required, a jet-friendly airport and competitively-priced airfares would help.

None of these companies, if they were based in Hawke’s Bay, would sell much — if any — of their wares here in the Bay. Hence, they would mostly be “importing” someone else’s wealth into the Bay, while paying handsome wages as well. And their environmental footprints would be tiny.

Is it possible to attract businesses like these to the Bay? Or is their location simply the luck of the draw … serendipitous … like where the founder was born?

With the disappearance of Venture Hawke’s Bay, is this kind of question on the agenda of any public body in Hawke’s Bay? Or do we just sit and hope we get lucky?

Tom Belford

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8 Comments

  1. Inovators? C'mon Tom! This is Hawke's Bay where only developers who want to cover the land with concrete and seal and farmers who want to empty the aquifers vote. The land where councilors are paralysed because "there is not enough research on the topic," and it is too hard to stretch beyond the status quo. Innovators wouldn't survive. Maybe we will wake up when the important things here are gone? If we had an innovative community we wouldn't have so many people on the dole. They would be finding productive ways of creating self employment.

  2. Diane Charteris is spot on, but there may be the odd funder "out there",with enough wisdom who may respond to a job description towards a Venture H.B that creates work instead of building more failed costly prisons

    Such an ongoing position will not come from any Government innovation, as being tough on crime still unfortunately gives N.Z politicians votes

  3. Whinge whinge whinge!!!! Can I suggest you catch the Friday afternoon flights from the main centres to Napier. I'd wager you'll find yourself sitting next to someone putting their money where their mouth is in bringing innovation to the bay, along with the fulfiling jobs & investment that goes with.

    Take your blinkers off & look around you – Mogul, 3R Group, Smart, Xero, Unison, First-Light; the list goes on & on of people & businesses walking the talk on innovation in this region. Of course, you could always just ignore all that & sit at your laptop pouring out vitriolic bile at anyone who counters the bay-buzz-aficionado rhetoric that we're a region of luddite dullards – & then wonder why they don't support you when you run for office

  4. Take YOUR blinkers off Steve. No one — and I mean NO ONE — has written more, or more favorably, about precisely the kind of companies you mention than I have in BayBuzz and BayBuzz Digest. I just want many more of them.

  5. I would have to say that The Profit would be the leader here Tom! Its whole mandate is to promote all the great things locals businesses are doing/achieving.

    We have some great supporters – small to large businesses along with the regional council and HDC (not the Napier City Council but is that a surprise since they're so inwardly focussed!)

    We would love to see The Profit being used as a marketing tool for the region as its interest goes well beyond the Bay and may just attract some of the very people you are talking about.

  6. Good point Damon – If only you could pick up a copy of the Profit alongside the Air NZ in-flight magazine when flying in & out of Napier airport. Any liklihood of that happening?

  7. I took a box of magazines to the airport recently as i've had a lot of requests from readers who use the airport.

    The Air NZ manager (not airport manager) said that magazines that paid for the right to be in the Koru club etc are only allowed. I argued that this publication was promoting the Bay and that this was a good thing.

    His response was that Air NZ might be interested if they got some editorial coverage or a free ad. I said we were doing a story on the benefits of the extended run way – to which he said "Air NZ does not support the extension of the runway".

    How's that for taking a progressive approach to HB?!?!?

  8. I leave a copy of the Profit in the magazine netting on my weekly jaunts to WTN. Perhaps you could get a movement going from other HB based travellers?

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