Hi-Tech Foundation Launches to Address Inequity and Create Opportunity in the Kiwi Tech Sector
Inaugural ‘Leading Light - He Whetū Mārama’ Scholarships Open For Application Now
A new charitable foundation with a strong technology bent is promising to help innovative New Zealanders to progress their careers, and Kiwi industries to move the country forward. Its mission is simple: to reduce barriers of entry and inequity of opportunity, so people with talent from any background can be successful in New Zealand’s Hi-Tech sector.
The Hi-Tech Foundation is a registered charity and new endowment fund born out of the New Zealand Hi-Tech Trust and Perpetual Guardian. The initiative is part of the New Zealand hi-tech sector’s advocacy for people from diverse backgrounds to enter the industry; it will provide financial assistance via scholarships for those seeking to join the sector, and will fund grants to organisations which support diversity and inclusion in the sector.
An inaugural $25k worth of scholarships (five x $5,000 scholarships) are open for applications now.
Many Kiwis, such as those from ethnically diverse backgrounds, girls and women, and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, do not have ready access to all of the opportunities the sector can offer. As an endowment fund, the foundation is in a unique position to endow success on the future of the industry.
The foundation aims to have $25 million of committed funds by 2025. As an independent, non-profit and non-partisan organisation, it is structured to accept subscriptions, donations, subsidies, grants, endowments, gifts, legacies, and bequests to support its work. Several of New Zealand’s most successful Hi-Tech leaders have already committed support to the endowment fund, contributing to the future success of the sector.
Kirsten Taylor, one of the philanthropy managers at Perpetual Guardian, says, “The Hi-Tech Foundation represents the new world of philanthropy, in which we bring together technology and social entrepreneurship to improve lives. In keeping with this focus on social benefit, the opportunities presented by the foundation will range from scholarships and grants for training to co-investment into grass roots programmes to improve participation in the sector.”
“The core purpose is to encourage diversity and inclusion, with strong Māori and Pasifika involvement and in building diversity and encouraging participation there is real opportunity for all New Zealanders to contribute to the fast-growing hi-tech sector.”
The foundation’s establishment was also made possible in part by the success of the annual Hi-Tech Awards, which began 25 years ago and now attracts more than 200 entries each year. More than 1,000 people, including New Zealand leaders in government and industry, gather to celebrate hi-tech achievements at the Awards.
Erin Wansbrough, the chairperson of the New Zealand Hi-Tech Trust, says a key benefit of the foundation is how it will highlight New Zealand’s global leadership in tech even as it ushers new people into the industry and builds careers and companies. “There is a pervasive myth that those seeking an exciting tech career that is full of possibility need to move offshore, which isn’t true. The time to start a career in tech is right here and right now – and the foundation provides a forum for the career development and advancement of a diverse stream of technology students, current professionals and those wanting to enter the sector from any background.
“Importantly, the foundation is backed by a leadership group of passionate volunteers who are deeply familiar with the tech sector, including senior business and technology executives who have built outstanding careers and want to share their expertise for the greater good. The foundation is focused on building stronger technology leaders, teams, corporations and role models in a rapidly changing, flatter, and tech-centric world – which we believe is the approach New Zealand needs.”
The launch of the Foundation builds on the Hi-Tech Trust’s work to create diversity and opportunity in the hi-tech sector. The Hi-Tech Trust recently supported the launch of “Land of Voyagers” with Ian Taylor, the 2019 Kiwibank Innovator of the Year who sits on the Hi-Tech Trust board and whose animation research business helped tell the Tuia 250 story. Land of Voyagers is a major education programme which draws on tech work done in 2019 for Tuia 250 in celebration of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific voyaging heritage, and acknowledges the science and innovation that existed centuries ago when our Polynesian tupuna crossed the Pacific Ocean to Aotearoa.
- Technology is humanity’s greatest enabler – it has enabled migration of peoples, development of tools and innovation across a multitude of disciplines. The Hi-Tech Foundation seeks to continue technology’s journey and bring people and perspectives from all backgrounds to this ever evolving, exciting and hugely valuable sector;
- The Hi-Tech Foundation is a new endowment fund which will help grow the capability and capacity of the hi-tech sector, and contribute to its increasing success and impact for many years to come;
- The foundation is overseen by a group of specially chosen custodians, acting as the investment committee for the foundation;
- The foundation also supports research in all relevant disciplines which will help to uncover and overcome the root causes of inequitable access to technology;
- Twenty-five years on from the inaugural Hi-Tech Awards, there is an opportunity to be bold and unveil a new ambition for the hi-tech sector of New Zealand, to be fully recognised for its long-term potential. The foundation seeks to create a legacy that further enables this sector for future generations of New Zealanders, and with Perpetual Guardian’s expertise and stewardship, the foundation will be able to realise and deliver on its long-term vision.