By Kirsten Edgar and Cliff Fuller
Earlier this year, Kirsten Edgar gave her perspective on the TechConnect Trade Show in Washington DC. Here’s a brief recap, and some insight into the value of the trip from three of the businesses that went.
Callaghan Innovation recently led a group of 12 New Zealand companies on a mission to the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in Washington DC, in conjunction with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and Grow Wellington.
The agencies and companies were represented at a New Zealand booth as part of the Innovation Showcase.
The companies – ArcActive, Avalia Immunotherapies, Boutiq Science, Heliase Genomics, Koti Technologies, Lifeonics, Ligar Polymers, Magritek, Nuenz, Photonic Innovations, Revolution Fibres, and Wetox – got the opportunity to connect with potential international partners and funders in pitch sessions and one-on-one meetings. At the same time they were able to connect with each other and New Zealand government agencies.
The event was an outstanding success, with five of the 12 companies given Innovation Awards, having been identified as being in the top 20 percent of submitted technologies.
Koti Technologies’ Sam Davies Talwar says TechConnect provided a great opportunity to meet with teams from some of the world’s largest companies, including LG, GE and Sherwin Williams.
“The format of the conference allowed companies who are interested in what we are doing to get in touch directly and request meetings. As an early stage company you spend a lot of time chasing other companies and trying to get attention, so it was great to have these companies coming to us and requesting a sit-down to understand more about our product.
“These meetings not only provided great contacts for future potential customers but also helped validate our approach both in terms of interest in our market but also the focus of our R&D activities.”
Heliase Genomics’ Director, Gabriel James says access to the right people was key to opening doors for potential corporate partnerships with companies such as BASF, Shell and Novozymes.
“One of the unexpected opportunities of joining the New Zealand delegation was to find synergies with other Kiwi companies.
“The New Zealand booth was known across the conference. That was hugely important in giving credibility to the companies involved. Going it alone, we wouldn’t have been able to make nearly as a big a splash.”
Revolution Fibres’ CEO Iain Hosie says the access TechConnect provided was “game-changing”.
“The opportunity to meet the Fortune 500 global giants and leading innovators in aerospace, defence, apparel and chemicals, is an opportunity too great to emphasise.
“We have had very compelling conversations with the design teams and things are progressing well with a number of companies that we could not have got in front of before.
“It was great to meet an inspiring bunch of companies with heaps of talent and great innovations.”
Hosie plans to go back at the next opportunity. “Going once is not enough. You need to keep up the traction.”
Heliase Genomics, Revolution Fibres and Ligar Polymers were inspired to jointly enter the major international Shell Gamechanger challenge, which supports development of unproven ideas that have the potential to drastically impact the future of energy.
Callaghan Innovation runs a regular programme of international events, showcasing New Zealand’s best emerging ideas to the biggest markets in the world.
Later this year we will be in Düsseldorf, supporting a group of New Zealand companies to attend the world’s largest medical technology trade show.
If you’ve got a great idea, and want to talk about taking it to the world, get in touch with Callaghan Innovation on 0800 4 22552.