NZ tech sector in “great shape” as Xero wins big in Wellington

"The New Zealand technology sector is clearly in great shape for the future with so many awesome young companies embarking on their big journey."

Blossoming cloud accounting firm Xero has claimed the PwC Hi-Tech Company of the Year award at the 2015 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards, on a record-breaking evening in Wellington.

Following a record number of entries and the biggest gala dinner ever held in Wellington, which will be forever regarded as the hallmarks of the 21st anniversary of the Hi-Tech Awards, Chairman Wayne Norrie spoke of the “strength and vibrancy” of New Zealand’s technology industry.

Unsurprisingly, competition was tough at this year’s NZ Hi-Tech Awards with judges reporting that the calibre of this year’s entrants was at “all-time high”, making the job of selecting winners exceedingly challenging for the more than 50 local and international judges who assessed entrants across the 12 award categories.

As revealed in front of over 700 guests, judges reported that the 2015 Awards saw a record number of entries with over 150 organisations entering, many of them for the first time.

“There has been a huge number of entries in the start-up and young achiever categories,” Norrie adds.

“The New Zealand technology sector is clearly in great shape for the future with so many awesome young companies embarking on their big journey.”

Xero won the big award of the night, and in selecting the company as the winner, the judges commented; “It takes continuity of performance over more than a single year to earn this award.”

“The company evidences superb operational efficiency, planning a new version of its software each week, with 400 releases in 2014,” Norrie adds. “Development of new features follows a tried and true winning behaviour: give your customers what they request.

‘Lastly, the open API’s for go-to-market through the accountancy channel is brilliant.”

Another big winner on the night was Umajin, who won two awards taking out both the Callaghan Innovation Best Technology Solution for the Creative Sector and the Duncan Cotterill Hi-Tech Innovative Software Product category.

“Umajin has drawn on 20 years engineering, gaming design and app development expertise to create a globally unique platform for designing and publishing beautiful and user friendly apps without requirement for coding,” the judges remarked.

“Their editor tool has attracted an impressive list of customers and partners including Intel, IBM and leading global agency group WPP.”

Speaking as chair of the NZ Hi-Tech Trust, Norrie says with such tough competition across the categories, it was pleasing to see so many new faces amongst the winners, including companies such as Foster Moore, GeoZone, Network for Learning, Phitek, Snapit HD, Straker Translations and Volpara Solutions.

“For these companies to have won against such a stellar line-up of entrants is a great sign for the hi-tech sector – it shows the wealth of talent and opportunity that’s out there,” he adds.

“I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to all our local and international judges for helping to make the Awards such a success.

“We are incredibly fortunate to attract judges of the calibre that we do. These are highly successful, busy people and for them to devote considerable time and energy to judging the awards says a huge amount about their commitment to this industry sector.

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“It also says a lot about the calibre of entries we receive. The judges have been full of praise for the outstanding companies participating in this year’s awards – they are all deserving of our congratulations.

“And it’s great to see how past winners are continuing to go from strength to strength too. We look forward to next year’s Awards in Auckland.”

The 2015 NZ Hi-Tech Award winners are:

Fronde Hi-Tech Young Achiever Award Winner: Ben O’Brien – CEO and Co-founder of StretchSense

Qual IT Best Technology Solution for the Public Sector Award Winner: Foster Moore

IBM Most Innovative Initiative Award Winner: Network for Learning Highly Commended: The Mind Lab by Unitec

Callaghan Innovation Best Technology Solution for the Creative Sector Award Winner: Umajin

Duncan Cotterill Innovative Software Product Award Winner: Umajin

Endace Innovative Hardware Product Award Winner: Phitek Highly Commended: SnapitHD

Grow Wellington Innovative Service Product Award Winner: Straker Translations

NZTE Most Innovative Agritech Product Award Winner: SnapitHD

UK Trade & Investment Innovative Mobile Technology Award Winner: Geozone

New Zealand Venture Investment Fund Hi-Tech Start-up Company of the Year Winner: Mindscape Highly Commended: Timely

Cisco Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year Winner: Volpara Solutions Highly Commended: Totara Learning

PwC NZ Hi-Tech Company of the Year Award Winner: Xero