The Hi-Tech Awards are fast approaching, but who’ll be deemed the most innovative of them all? We take a closer look at the five nominees for Kiwibank’s Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service award.
Eleven billion dollars: that’s how much revenue New Zealand’s leading hi-tech companies brought into our economy last year. That’s an 11% increase from the year before. Today, technology is New Zealand’s third largest export earner behind tourism and dairy. Not bad for a little island in the South Pacific.
With TechWeek in just a few week’s time, it wouldn’t be complete without the Hi-Tech Awards to top it all off. There are 13 awards up for grabs including ‘Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service’, sponsored by Kiwibank for the third year running. It’s a highly competitive category made up of companies from a mix of industries. Last year, the award was won by Beca’s Beacon System – a real-time alert service using technology and engineering to assess the impact on buildings right after an earthquake hits.
This year’s awards will be held at Auckland’s Spark Arena where the winners will be announced on May 24. In anticipation of the night, we take a closer look at the five nominees:
Since completing the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator (a 12-week programme providing financial tech start-ups with access to resources to achieve rapid growth) last year, Hnry has gone on to become one of the programme’s most successful alumni, rapidly growing its customer base and raising major funding from various investors. To top it all off, two-year-old Hnry is now nominated for its first ever Hi-Tech Award.
So what is it? Hnry is an online service that handles financial admin (Income Tax, GST, ACC, Student Loans, KiwiSaver etc.) for self-employed people. The idea came to founders James and Claire Fuller when the pair found themselves battling the admin tasks of self-employment in 2016. Despite having an accountant, they found they still had to do a lot of the extra work themselves like invoicing, calculating and getting insurance.
So in 2017, the pair started Hnry in an attempt to help other self-employed freelancers, contractors and sole traders. How it works is that customers are provided a Hnry bank account to have all their self-employed income paid into. Tax from that income is then automatically calculated and deducted before the remaining amount is given to the customer. And because Hnry is a registered Tax Agent with both IRD and ACC, it’s able to represent its customers to those agencies just as an accountant would. Hnry currently works on a pay-as-you-earn model, charging a 1% fee on the income that gets paid into your Hnry account.
The stakes are high for Predict HQ, which is nominated for not one, not two, but three awards this year. It’s a huge endorsement for a company that was launched in 2015 by Campbell Brown, formerly of Zoomy, GrabOne, and Online Republic. Drawing on his years of experience working in tech businesses, Brown noticed how hard it was to know exactly why a demand spike was happening. It turned out most of these spikes were being caused by events, so he decided to create a platform (with co-founders Robert Kern and Mike Ballantyne) that would predict these spikes by aggregating all public events into one, easy to access service (AKA Predict HQ).
Four years on, Predict HQ now has two teams across Auckland and San Francisco. Its San Francisco office was set up in order to get a foot in the door with Silicon Valley clients and investors, something which so far seems to have paid off. Predict HQ now works with companies like Dominos, Booking.com, Accor Hotels, Qantas, and – in its biggest get yet – Uber. Its customers get alerted to around 20 million events (concerts, public holidays, conferences, sporting events) that could potentially cause fluctuations in demand for everything from flights home to ordering a pizza.
Emergency Q is no stranger to the Hi-Tech Awards. Not only was its parent company Healthcare Applications nominated twice at last year’s awards (including Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service), but it also won the award for Most Innovative Technology Solution for the Public Good.
Emergency Q is a software designed to reduce wait times in hospital emergency departments (EDs). It does this by allowing patients to get an estimate of how long waits might be by looking at the Emergency Q app or screen. That way it allows patients to make more informed decisions, as well as eliminating time wasted in waiting rooms. For medical staff, it allows them to focus on the most urgent cases, relieving pressure on beds and other resources.
In its first 10 months, Emergency Q was able to save patients more than 21,600 hours of waiting, as well as reduce patient volumes by 12%. Today, the app has more than 12,000 users and is now fully operational at both North Shore and Middlemore hospitals. Unsurprisingly, in addition to its Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service nomination, Emergency Q is also nominated for Māori Company of the Year
With more than 6,000 corporate customers across multiple continents, Serko’s integrated travel and expense solutions have transformed the way business travel works. Zeno Travel, one of Serko’s most popular solutions, aggregates data from various sources to give corporate users access to a range of travel options. Accompanying that is Zeno Expense, a cloud-based expense management solution where users can manage cash claims, mileage, allowance and corporate credit card expenses from their mobile phones. This streamlines the process of matching corporate card expenses and saves accountants from hours of admin time.
Along with Emergency Q, Serko was also nominated for Most Innovative Hi-Tech service last year but was beaten out by Beca. This year, it’ll be hoping for some better luck, especially with its nomination for the biggest prize of the night – Hi-Tech Company of the Year.
As one of New Zealand’s great business success stories, it would be easy to assume it was business-as-usual at Xero. But last year the accounting software company unveiled something new: Xero Learn, the first cloud accounting platform designed for educators. With Xero Learn, educators can set up business scenarios for students to experiment with, or tasks for students to work through in Xero, and monitor student access and progress. Ultimately, the goal is to provide young people with more real-world experience with a software that’s fully immersive and accessible anywhere, anytime.
Right now, Xero Learn is being used at over 20 educational institutions to teach students accounting, bookkeeping and business studies. That includes Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Macquarie University in Sydney, and the University of Waikato. In 2018, Australian Financial Review named Xero Learn best service innovation of the year (meanwhile, Xero was also listed as the third most innovative company in Australasia).
To find out more about the Hi-Tech Service Award finalists click here.
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