The KFA team

Spotlight on Sponsors: Callaghan Innovation

Callaghan Innovation is a government agency supporting hi-tech businesses in New Zealand. We sat down with Bruce Jarvis, Craig Shipman, Jonathan Miller and Elena Higgison to learn about why supporting FinTech is vital to them.

What makes you excited about the KFA programme?

The FinTech space is a hive of activity and an amazing opportunity for explosive growth. The sector has significant scope for disruption as the incumbents are large and slow moving. Also, entry to the market is relatively low cost as various platforms are coming onto the market, enabling new players to enter the market quickly.

Callaghan Innovation is excited by the multiplier effect the KFA provides by combining the space, cohort, sponsors, mentors and exposure all in one package. This makes it so much easier than going it alone, and increases the chances of success for companies in the accelerator.

What do you think the benefits are of sponsoring such a programme in New Zealand?

There are too many to list, but one of the top benefits is creating a pipeline of up-and-comers, and becoming good at growing companies in this space. The recently formed FinTech NZ cluster is growing, but needs a pipeline of graduates coming up into the ranks.

Companies like PushPay are a great example of how a Fintech business can have global growth ambitions with R&D based in NZ – this is good for NZ. The KFA programme is an enabler to create more of these businesses.

How are you preparing to leverage the rise of FinTech in New Zealand?

We’re working with MBIE and ATEED to create a joined-up approach to the companies working in this space. NZ is a small country, it’s easy for us (relative to other countries) to adjust regulations to make for smooth sailing for entrepreneurs/businesses who are pushing the boat out with disruptive business models. This is important in the FinTech sector.

Callaghan Innovation is a founding member of the FinTech NZcluster and we will provide connections and support to the companies innovating in that space and to collaborations across the cluster. Most of the companies in this space are going to be generating a lot of data, so I’d expect there to be a steady demand for our in-house data science research skills moving forward too.

How do you think FinTech will positively impact New Zealand consumers or businesses?

I think the main impact will be transparency. The consumers of these products will get transparency, which in turn will drive down the costs involved and empower better financial decisions. This will be through digitising and automating current manual processes, and through innovative business models that don’t have high traditional overheads built in. The net impact will be that your average consumer should get more for less and have more clarity over what is financially good for them and what is not.

Which FinTech verticals are you particularly interested in?

Peer to peer networks for lending, artificial intelligence based robo-advice and not-for-profit business models.

Would you support this initiative again? Why?

Yes, there is a lot of room for disruption in this sector and we have only just scratched the surface with KFA.

If your business wants to take innovation to the next level, Callaghan Innovation can help – whether that’s by providing advice, contacts, expertise or funding. Get in touch.