Peter Kerr

Peter Kerr is a Wellington-based journalist specialising in business, innovation and science commercialisation. Peter is on Twitter @sticknz

Why we need to go back to the future (and give it a name) - Stick

Feb 01, 2017

Here’s a counter-intuitive notion, that if we’re smart, could allow our ‘analogue’ agricultural systems to thrive in a digital world. But to do so we MUST own our story. My contention is, the more society connects to the cloud, the more we will want to connect to the land. That is, as virtual and artificial becomes ubiquitous and cheaper, the more valuable and special will be realn ess and authenticity. Realness and authenticity is about ‘trust’. In theory most of our current farming-based industries should have a distinct advantage in this regard. Which is the problem when it comes to agriculture. Because farmers, companies and our country can only benefit by branding our key comparative and competitive advantage – namely our ability to grow, and knowledge about pastures. We don’t share a brand/name/story around this, though we’ve poured billions … Read More

Why we should give some serious thought to a Science and Innovation Council - Stick

Jan 10, 2017

It’s that time of year when we fly  kites, give voice to possibilities. So, given we have a new Science and Innovation minister, namely Paul Goldsmith, how about exploring whether now is a good time to put seriously explore forming a Science and Innovation Council. New Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith should look at the advantages of forming a Science and Innovation Council. After all, if it is good enough for countries such as Denmark, Finland and Singapore (economies that we like to rate and rank ourselves against) surely it is good enough for us Stick’s blogged about the desirability of such a high-level, well-connected, oversight body in the past – but there’s nothing like resurrecting a good idea! It was also Recommendation 13 in ‘Powering Innovation’ – a strategy paper from June 2011. Recommendation 13: … Read More

Perhaps the TIN100 deserves an ex gratia payment? - Stick

Oct 27, 2016

Perhaps Greg Shanahan and his TIN100 team and reports are deserving of an NZ Inc ex gratia payment – because arguably they’ve been most responsible for bringing hi tech out of the closet, making it cool(er)*. Of course we can never tell what would’ve happened without this report coming into being 12 years ago, but purely as an ‘aspirational showcase’ alone the TIN100 punches well above its weight. In fact one way to look at its influence is what we’d know about the ICT, high tech manufacturing and biotech industries without its presence. In an era of ever less traditional media reporting of industry, the answer is very little indeed. Greg Shanahan launches the TIN100 2016 report at Wellington’s NZX, and discusses the ICT sector with Greg Davidson of Datacom, and serial startup investor Dave Moskovitz.   TIN managing … Read More

This ‘greaser of the tracks’ will be really good for NZ science - Stick

Sep 04, 2016

I’m sort of embarrassed that I’ve never heard of Science Exchange before. It’s been going for over five years, started in the US by a couple of Kiwi founders, and has grown well beyond start up to having recently secured Series B funding of US$25 million. In its own words “Science Exchange has become the world’s leading marketplace for scientific research. Through Science Exchange, researchers can securely access a network of 1,000s of screened and verified contract research organizations (CROs), academic labs, and government facilities that are available to conduct scientific experiments.” The now Palo Alto, Silicon Valley located firm acts as a halfway house between organisations needing science done, and researchers with the specialist knowledge and facilities to do the same. Pharmaceutical companies and US government agencies have been the major users of the connecting service. Science … Read More

Does open source equal open society? - Stick

Aug 08, 2016

Every party needs a grumpy uncle…so let me be that curmudgeonly guy for the upcoming Open Source//Open Society conference. (Early spoiler alert – I’m going to some of OS//OS. There’s too many thought provoking speakers, too much opportunity to touch base with clever people not to) The second such OS//OS event is talking (was originally a typo, but it works!) place at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on August 22 and 23. I attended last year’s inaugural event attended by over 350 business, government and tech sector people. This year the organisers are expecting over 400 people, and ticket prices have been increased! So there must be a few believers in the whole concept of open. Given the look of last year’s attendees there’s going to be a swag of millenials (18-36 year olds). Now, do they think they can … Read More

Why there’s an opportunity cost in not being in a Biz Dojo - Stick

Mar 03, 2016

A few months ago I shifted work premises to become part of Australasia’s largest co-working space. My move to Biz Dojo has been great. I wrote a blog last year about its plans to expand its model overseas. As I flippantly comment to outside colleagues, there’s an opportunity cost for a lot of different types of business activity in not being in a place such as this. (On a completely different tangent, my early-20s daughter sometimes brings her friends in here, even if I’m not, to check the place out – providing a completely unscientific proof of how cool it is). Ideas in action at the Biz Dojo Resident numbers ebb and flow, but it’s constantly creeping up and now stands at about 150 residents (with 180 estimated to be this BD’s maximum) Naturally … Read More

Fishing for a complementary use of fire reservoir ponds - Stick

Jan 28, 2016

Years ago for a farm management report at Lincoln University, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek plan around the integration of goldfish in troughs on dairy farms (we’d spotted the use of such technology to help keep the troughs clean). Koura (native freshwater crayfish). Picture by J Clayton, NIWA Well here’s a huge expansion on this idea, one that’s taken my fancy…this time utilising water ponds kept on hand by forestry companies in case they ever need to fight a fire. (Check out the story here in last year’s Otago Daily Times) Ernslaw One started with an experiment in one of its Maniototo forest ponds, growing koura, or freshwater crayfish, and it has been such a success, it is going to expand the programme around some of its 2000 ponds spread throughout Southland and Otago. Read More

‘We don’t have enough developers’ – a homebaked remedy - Stick

Nov 23, 2015

There’s more than one way to bake the cake of “we don’t have enough developers”. Universities produce some, polytechs some others. Many are self-taught. Enspiral in Wellington through its Dev Academy has a fulltime nine week course that turns non-coders into people with digital development skills, ready for employment, open to much more learning. Industry Connect in Auckland has taken another approach to upskilling people who don’t know much about computing, or do, but need a New Zealand context, into smart resources ripe for the digital environment. Students in the six week programme attend a 6.30pm start for three hours, three nights a week. This is followed by a three month volunteer internship to sharpen their skills. The outcome that co-founder Andrew McPherson says is important, is that as new employees his former students are productive within the first week. Read More

The Internet of Things (IoT): A slow burn until it can communicate with everything else - Stick

Nov 17, 2015

Occasionally, you come across a piece of thinking that makes you go, ‘oh, right, that’s a very interesting point’. So it is with a recent article by Toby Ruckert, CEO and Founder of Unified Inbox, a platform to bring and display all your social media and email communications in one place. Toby Ruckert, CEO and founder of Unified Inbox Unified Inbox is a pretty major play in itself, and has no lack of competition. With a bunch of developers and marketers spread around the world Ruckert and his team are giving it their best shot. However, it is a recent article in Teletimes International (see page 21) and his own website that reveals a depth of thinking beyond simply where we are now. Ruckert, while not overly talking up his own company, contends that the IoT … Read More

“If you don’t love your idea, don’t do it” - Stick

Nov 11, 2015

If you don’t love your idea, don’t do it. As well as this point, tech entrepreneur Nick Gerritsen, speaking at Supercharge, a recent startup event that attracted 150+ in Wellington, said that it is possible to smash it big from Aotearoa. Not that it is easy to do it from here, or from anywhere – given that well over 90% of startups don’t manage to carry on as operating companies (though that’s not failure). Gerritsen, who has founded and grown a number of ventures such as Carbonscape (charcoal and very valuable components through microwaving) and Nxtfuels (algae-derived renewable hydrocarbons).   Here’s 10 key points he made, along with celebrating the fact of being a Kiwi. 1. Quality Quality of your proposal How does it stand out? Why is it unique? Massive impact? What’s it going … Read More