The Rutherford Innovation Showcase is a collaboration and business development opportunity for technology companies to engage with potential partners, investors and customers. The event has been organised by NZICT Group in partnership with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Ministry of Science and Innovation and ATEED.

It's a real inspiration to hear from so many talented people who are dedicated to running world-leading businesses from this country. We see New Zealand doing well on a number of measures. For example, the diverse technology sector represented by the TIN 100 is productive and brings in $5 billion of exports per year.

But as Kiwis who are passionate about the potential of technology and our country's success, we are not satisfied, and we're hearing the same from others in the technology industry. We think that as a nation we can, and need, to do even better. 

At the Rutherford Innovation Showcase, we've heard that while some innovators are achieving export velocity and taking a mature approach to decisions about their intellectual property, there is an opportunity to fill some of the gaps in commercialisation expertise. We've heard about technology businesses being approached with a smorgasbord of incentives to move offshore.

Important questions were raised about ethnic and gender diversity in the New Zealand technology industry. And there is work to be done on really understanding the bridge from education to export success.

A timely contrast with rugby was drawn; are we perhaps a bit shy to demand and celebrate commercial success?

One of the themes we've heard is that achieving velocity and reaching offshore markets is much easier through partnerships and networks, and that too much self-reliance can hinder opportunity. Working at a company that provides platforms that others build on, we couldn't agree more. Business partnerships and collaboration are our lifeblood.

Tonight we are honoured to be among the sponsors of the free South Pacific Entrepreneurs Networking Event, kindly hosted at Telecom Place in Auckland. Auckland ICT has put together this event as an opportunity for networking among diverse start-ups, entrepreneurs, software developers and others in the tech world. IT Forum Gold Coast have sent a delegation from across the Tasman.

Themed pods will serve as centres of gravity for discussions about themes such as cloud services, digital media content, electronics, location based services, and mobility. 

Microsoft's pod will feature some of the complimentary technology and networking that we offer to software and web start-ups.

It's been just about three years since we launched the BizSpark programme for software start-ups and more than 300 Kiwi start-ups have joined the programme.

Pingar, Aptimize, Green Button, Hard Link and Litmos are just some examples of start-ups that we have enjoyed supporting through BizSpark. We're also thrilled to have Xero as a BizSpark partner that offers complimentary services to BizSpark startups. As long as they meet the programme criteria, there's no limit to the number of software start-ups we can help through BizSpark.

And if you're one of the 200 people attending, be sure to visit the Auckland ICT pod where we've been told some very exciting technology will be on display.

We hope tonight's event will help to spark new opportunities for people to work together and bring New Zealand innovation to the world. 

By Scott Wylie, Director Developer & Platform Group, Microsoft New Zealand Limited