Good Puff at Investment Regatta. (Upfront: News, Trends, People)

Article excerpt

How to put some solid investment puff into New Zealand's economic sails?

That was the subject of last month's two-day "Investment Regatta" conference in Auckland. And if the level of hot air being generated was any indication, then the dosh needed to power local growth should be gusting in soonish.

As various speakers from local Minister for Economic, Industry and Regional Development Jim Anderton to global adman Kevin Roberts, business high flier Sir Anthony O'Reilly and international innovation champions such as Hermann Hauser or Thomas Furness all agreed--conditions here are ripe for it.

On top of the natural assets that are helping attract private investment in land, wine, and tourist lodges, we have a friendly, well-educated populace brimming with can-do Kiwi innovation, a stable government, a corruption-free regulatory framework--and we speak English.

Being a bit out of the way is no longer the disadvantage it was. New technologies are more portable than primary products, and new ideas spring more readily from what Kevin Roberts describes as an "edgy", radical, fringe environment than those more constrained by mainstream thinking.

The importance of innovation (and its Kiwi exemplars) was emphasised by such speakers as Hermann Hauser (co-founder of Acorn Computers and current director of Amadeus Capital Partners) and Thomas Furness (a pioneer in human interface technology and virtual reality).

In terms of creativity and capability, New Zealand tends to punch above its weight and has many of the ingredients for generating new business ideas, says Hauser--excellent universities, entrepreneurial spirit, links with large companies, and a small home market that has helped prompt a wider export focus.

According to Anderton, the tide of Kiwi can-do-itis is rising. He cites record high levels of business optimism, across-the-board regional economic growth, and forecasts national growth levels above four percent over the next eight to 10 years. …