Wellington has a progressive and supportive tech community with a Silicon Valley vibe, according to Australian business owners exploring business opportunities in the region.
One of those is Kate Raynes-Goldie, the founder of Games We Play, a game consultancy focused on helping businesses through better use of games and play.
The Perth-based consultant was one of five business-owners who won a trip to Wellington in a competition to attract Australian tech start-ups and businesses to the city.
Dr Raynes-Goldie was impressed by the “very progressive” community, along with support offered to small business owners by government and local organisations.
“The government support and enthusiasm for games and tech startups in Wellington is impressive,” she says.
“The scene is vibrant, with innovative co-working spaces like BizDojo and a range of incubator and accelerator programmes such as CreativeHQ, as well as R&D and capacity funding, which all offer great opportunities for game and tech entrepreneurs."
Echoing Dr Raynes-Goldie’s comments, Alex Topaloski, Chief Executive of analytics company Proximiti, says that technology concepts bubble up to the surface a lot quicker in Wellington.
“It seems easier to cut through the corporate and government bureaucracy that often kills innovation,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Darren McMurtrie co-Founder of internet payment company PromisePay, admires the sense of collaboration and camaraderie in Wellington.
“Everyone we met was eager to help us, answer any questions we had, and keen to introduce us to the people we needed to get in front of,” he adds.
The Wellington Adds Up competition and associated online marketing campaign was a collaboration between Positively Wellington Tourism and Grow Wellington, two of the organisations being combined into the new Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA).
During their tour to Wellington, the competition winners attended a business networking event with Wellington entrepreneurs, tech, business and government leaders.
Also, they visited the city’s start-up base Creative HQ and Tech Hub at Biz Dojo, toured the offices of tech companies Trade Me, Xero and 3months and discussed funding opportunities with angel investors and crowd-funding platform PledgeMe.
In addition, Grow Wellington and Wellington City Council representatives showed them the city’s business strengths, landscape and available support.
The business-owners also sampled local cuisine and craft beer, explored the city’s tourist attractions and took part in a tour of Weta Workshop.
WREDA Chair Peter Biggs believes the competition winners were exactly the type of businesses the city should be attracting.
“These could be Wellington’s future Xeros - with our collaborative tech community and reasonable operating costs we are an appealing proposition,” he says.
Wellington City Councillor for Economic Development Jo Coughlan adds that the campaign was part of the council’s Destination Wellington programme to seek and attract new business investment and talent to Wellington.
“Business attraction is a long-term game and it is critical that we promote Wellington both domestically and internationally,” she adds.
“We may not know the full impact of this campaign for a few years, but we know it has put the city on the radar of Australian entrepreneurs.”