Queenstown "inundated" with new business enquiries

by Olivia Wensley - Nov 25, 2021

Reader commentary: Olivia Wensley, CEO of StartUp Queenstown Lakes.

Startup Queenstown Lakes has been inundated with enquiries from those living outside the region about setting up an office here.

Olivia Wensley

A catalyst behind this new surge in inquiries is due to the $45m Innovation Hub. The facility, developed by the Porter Group to be called Research & Innovation Queenstown, will be established at Remarkables Park. It will house a cluster of research and innovation entities and commercial and hi-tech activities.

This surge in interest is also due to the $20m Kanoa Diversification fund, granted to the region by Regional Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash. This provides a much needed injection of capital to attract and retain exciting projects which will diversify the region.

Minister Nash has been a great advocate for boosting our fledgling tech industry as a way to diversify our region - and the Kanoa fund is an excellent way to give our region a much needed boost. A key part of this fund will be boosting startups and scaleups in our region - in addition to attracting new industries.

We’ve got some of the region’s best brains behind the push to transform our region by attracting startups and other more established industries - notably Xero founder Rod Drury has been a fantastic advocate for diversifying our region into a tech destination. In particular, he has advocated great support for leveraging our region’s existing strength in film and using digital technology to bolster in - in the form of virtual production, AR/VR and other cutting-edge digital technologies.

The charge for diversifying our region into other industries has been led by Peter Harris and the Economic Development team at Queenstown Lakes District Council. The launch of the “Home for Healthier Business” campaign has attracted significant interest outside the region - particularly from the tech sector.

A community group, advising on strategy and policy for diversifying our region into tech, and supported by MBIE, is being driven by some of New Zealand’s most experienced business leaders.

In short - Queenstown Lakes has talent, in the bucket-loads. And it’s fantastic to see community-focused business leaders rolling up their sleeves to transform the Queenstown Lakes region for the better. We all know our community is full of exceptional people, and it’s great to see them so invested in the betterment of our community.

VoxSmart, the latest tech arrival to our region, is a FinTech company which is the global leader in communications surveillance. It has cemented its APAC presence with the opening of a new office in Queenstown, New Zealand, further building on the global growth of the firm over the last year. 

An artist's impression of the $45 million Research and Innovation hub planned for Queenstown.

Queenstown was chosen to be VoxSmart’s presence on the ground in the APAC region due to the investment that the city has put into the new innovation hub, with the goal of turning the city into a global leader in technology. This new office is headed by VoxSmart co-founder, COO & kiwi native, Adrienne Muir. 

There is plenty of homegrown tech talent in the region too - we have a strong local startup scene which is going from strength to strength. For example, local tech startup First Table scooping three awards in the recent Queenstown Chamber of Commerce awards - including the RealNZ Supreme Business of the Year.

Phytrac, a biotech startup which enables phyto-systems that restore, regenerate & reclaim contaminated earth, has just attracted significant capital investment.

On 23 November, the Home for Healthier Business team held a webinar on “Moving your Tech Business to Queenstown Lakes”. This covered what the tech ecosystem looks like in our region, and how present companies are leveraging the Queenstown Lakes brand to promote and innovate.

Something most startups and tech companies struggle with is hiring and retaining key talent. Companies are looking for an “edge” that they can get over their competitors for hiring talent. 

This is an important drawcard for the Queenstown Lakes - it’s no secret our region offers an unparalleled quality of life. If you’re interested in moving to our region (or know anyone else who might be) - if you missed the webinar you can watch the replay here.

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