Wellington – 1 September 2021: The 2021 GovTech Accelerator will help eight forward-looking cross-Government teams step out of their daily routine and adopt start-up thinking to address some of Aotearoa’s most pressing issues, says Dr Ganesh Nana, Ambassador of the NZ GovTech Accelerator and Chair of the Productivity Commission.
As the ambassador of this year’s GovTech Accelerator programme, delivered by Wellington innovation hub, Creative HQ, Dr Ganesh welcomes the Governments response of embracing new ways of sparking innovation in the public service.
“It’s hard to think innovatively when you’re stuck in a day-to-day routine,” says Dr Ganesh. “What better way to unlock the potential of our top policy thinkers than by creating a new virtual environment where innovation is their primary concern.”
The Wellington-based NZ GovTech Accelerator, now in its fourth year, traditionally provides participants with a collaborative working facility at Creative HQ’s Dixon Street premises. Due to the latest COVID-19 lockdown, Creative HQ have reimagined the NZ GovTech Accelerator and are delivering an innovative, virtual version of the accelerator, until lockdown restrictions are eased.
This year, teams have chosen to focus on the issues of climate change, whenua research, among other sustainability-focused areas.
The Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund, which is funded by Westpac NZ and mutually governed by Westpac NZ and the New Zealand Government, has committed $375,000 to the NZ GovTech Accelerator over the next three years to assist the development of innovative technology-based solutions.
Those participating in this year’s NZ GovTech Accelerator are Sustainable Business Network, Westpac Government Innovation Fund, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Social Development, Te Pūkenga, Manaaki Tairāwhiti and Wellington City Council.
Rob Deakin, Manager of Resilience at Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand, is leading his team in this year’s NZ GovTech Accelerator. Their project is focused on the area of disaster management – proving timely with the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
“When disaster strikes, everyone involved in responding must be able to access consistent information quickly and easily,” says Deakin. “We’re looking to use the NZ GovTech Accelerator to develop a foundational layer of information that acts similarly to a directory, making sure all fingers point towards a single source of truth during a crisis.”
“The Accelerator will allow us to focus all our energy into this important kaupapa around ensuring consistent crisis information for those who need it. This is a problem agencies have identified in the past, but one that no organisation can solve alone, so joining the NZ GovTech Accelerator is the perfect way to galvanise joint action on this.”
Head of GovTech at Creative HQ, Jonnie Haddon, says that the NZ GovTech Accelerator is providing the kind of support needed for Government agencies to thrive, and supercharge the development of innovative new ideas.
“This programme will provide these Government-based innovators with access to different kinds of expertise to enable them to identify the root cause of the problems that need solving, and to use creativity and technology to create solutions that work,” says Haddon.
“We’ve seen the impact of our alumni from our NZ GovTech Accelerator across the country. We can’t wait to test out this new format of GovTech and share what this year’s cohort develops at the demo day in October,” continues Haddon. “Our teams will be participating this year remotely until we’re out of lockdown, so now more than ever we can really see the need for innovation, and creative thinking to do things differently.”
The NZ GovTech Accelerator has been internationally recognised as a leading programme for public sector effectiveness and innovation. Over the last three years, GovTech has fostered 30 projects. With projects creating impact ranging from saving 3.5 billion litres of drinking water to the possible creation of $38 million in annual economic benefit.
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