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NZ eager for Thai ICT partnerships

Recent delegation shows country's focus on Thailand as it aims to tap into region

New Zealand's information and communication technology (ICT) industry is looking at Thailand for key business partners to expand its footprint throughout Southeast Asia.

Candace Kisner, chief executive officer of the New Zealand Technology Association, which represents the whole of the country's technology sector, said New Zealand's ICT industry is growing rapidly, and in fact is the fastest-expanding highest per-capita earning sector in the country.

ICT contributes more than US$25 billion (Bt807 billion) to New Zealand's economy and employs over 40,000 people.

ICT is third-largest sector contributing revenue to the economy, after the dairy industry and tourism. By 2020, the association hopes the ICT industry will be the largest contributor, following up on recent annual growth of between 16.5 and 17 per cent, she said.

"It is on track to be the largest contributor to GDP by 2020, and to do this we need to partner with Thailand," said Kisner.

The strongest area in New Zealand's ICT industry is software, in which it has many companies that are expert in different fields.

Its software companies operate in diverse environments and are keen to expand their operations in several niche areas, including accounting software in the cloud, security software, and tourism software, she said.

The country is also strong in electronics, agriculture technology and robotics, she said.

Businesses within New Zealand's ICT industry focus on innovations as diverse as wireless infrastructure, health IT, transport and logistics technologies, digital content, geospatial, and telecommunications.

Of the total annual ICT revenue, between $7 billion and $9 billion is from exports, which are increasing rapidly. New Zealand is looking to the world to sell its expertise in terms of software and other technologies and hardware, said the association chief.

Overall technology export revenue currently accounts for around 30 per cent of GDP, and it is on track to achieve around 40 per cent.

It is New Zealand's goal to work with countries such as Thailand to do more technology business together, and ICT business in particular, he said.

"New Zealand's export value to Asean is around $4 billion, while its imports are $8 billion. We would like to have more ICT business expansion in the region. We are excited about how big Southeast Asia is growing.

"Thailand is an ideal market for New Zealand to work together and seek more opportunities. We will work closely with Southeast Asia and Thailand to increase the economy," said Kisner.

Recently, the association set a goal to enter the region as a high-growth market and an opportunity environment in areas such as agriculture and healthcare technologies, as well as in emerging technologies.

The key strategy in achieving such a goal is collaboration by creating business partnerships, she stressed. She also said the New Zealand government's support in facilitating and encouraging the ICT sector is the key factor behind the industry's success. ICT is a major focus of the Wellington administration, and it is firmly on the national agenda.

Moreover, New Zealand has a sophisticated collection of incubator programmes to foster innovation and start-up success. The country boasts a wealth of ICT companies in a number of specialist industries that are highly successful at the international level.

New Zealand's population is only 4 million, while its GDP is more than $200 billion. It needs to find ways to increase the economic value that each person creates, and technology is a good way to achieve that, she said, adding that New Zealand's main expertise is in areas including agribusiness, aviation, education, geothermal medical technology, and ICT.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key recently visited Thailand, following the launch of his government's "NZ Inc Asean Strategy" early this year, which is intended to identify and act on the enormous commercial potential in the region. He was accompanied by a delegation of 21 of his country's technology companies, six of them being ICT businesses.

"This [technology mission to the Kingdom] is a unique event between Thailand and New Zealand. It is the first time there has been such a delegation. It represents new sunrise opportunities between the two countries. We are now closer to each other and, as a result of this delegation, we will have more business opportunities between us. We will be the good partners for each other," said Kisner.



ICT firms in focus

Six of the 21 companies accompanying the New Zealand PM on his recent visit to Thailand were ICT firms: Gallagher, KonnectNET, Mako Network, Orion Health, VMob and Wynyard.

Gallagher

Gallagher offers animal-management solutions, including electric fencing, live-animal weighing and electronic animal identification.

Its security solutions uniquely integrate electronic access control, intruder alarms and perimeter security systems, as well as a number of additional systems, including digital video, biometrics and people management. The solutions include electric fencing, wire tension and vibration sensors.

Gallagher chief executive officer William Gallagher said the company is set to open an office in Thailand and further grow its business in the region. "Our office in Bangkok will be opened and operated by end of this year and we are now recruiting staff," he said.

Orion Health

Orion Health, which offers electronic health solutions, has extensive experience in the design and installation of complex systems within demanding healthcare environments.

Its products and solutions are currently implemented in more than 30 countries and are used by hundreds of thousands of clinicians, and help facilitate care for tens of millions of patients.

Orion Health's health information system (HIS) development centre is based in Thailand, with the products targeted at emerging markets such as Southeast Asia, Turkey and the Middle East. Its major reference client is Bumrungrad International.

Ian McCrae, chief executive officer of Orion Health, said the company had confirmed its plan to invest in a new Thai facility and to double the number of staff in Bangkok.

Orion Health and Bumrungrad are also exploring an expansion of their relationship to take the hospital system to a new level.

VMob

VMob offers a mobile marketing platform that delivers promotions and loyalty programmes in real time.

Its technology combines social profiling, geo-location and transactions to help retailers and brands understand their customers and connect with them through real-time promotions and rewards.

Chief executive officer Scott Bradley said VMob works with some of the largest brands around the world, such as McDonalds, Exxon, DDB Tribal and Yellow Pages, in delivering its platform.

Wynyard

Wynyard Group specialises in software and services to help protect companies and countries from growing risks, crime and corruption.

Its offerings provide combined assurance, advanced crime analytics and investigation software to more than 400 customers.

The group is now increasing its operations and presence in Southeast Asia, driven by demand for solutions that prevent, detect and disrupt serious and organised crime, including fraud, money laundering, and the trafficking of drugs, humans and firearms.

KonnectNET

KonnectNET offers solutions to the insurance industry by providing secure networks that improve the productivity and profitability of both insurers and doctors. It also enhances customers' experience with improved security, privacy, and faster decision-making by their insurer.

The company is currently researching the potential of Southeast Asian markets, and Thailand is one of the three countries it is considering for further expansion.

Mako Networks

Mako Networks provides a comprehensive small-site network management solution with specific functions to minimise credit card fraud. Its cloud-based system, delivered across its customer premise, can be provided in a range of purchasing options to meet the requirements of market expectations and capital requirements of resellers.

It has started to actively recruit new distribution partners across Southeast Asia.


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