Following months of being interviewed by media & the honour of presenting at events in the community - there has been a request to do a blog to include some of the key note content. So here's a wahine's uncut version (with some bonus tracks included). touching on points of interest with no targeted messaging, just the real deal!! There'll be more to share in the months to come as the business officially opens, so watch this space!
Happy reading & please feel free to contact me (Heidi) if you have any further questions)........
The story behind about Innov8HQ - why did you start it, why Dunedin needs one, what you see it becoming?
I have always loved the idea of Collaborative Workspaces & Innovation Hubs, having seen them thrive in cities around the world & NZ, it was just going to be matter of time before I’d take the leap of faith and invest in one of my own.
The business model for Innov8HQ was inspired by an illustrious career spanning 13 years in the ICT sector, where I experienced firsthand societies being transformed & disrupted with the proliferation of technology, and how communities were responding to boost and protect it’s economy.
Our business & social landscapes have changed significantly with the ‘internet of things & smart technology’ now giving us access & visibility to audiences 24/7 both locally & beyond our shores. This means our scope for customers, employees and investors have expanded too and enabling communities with the right skill set/experiences to deal with this, was critical to deal with this demand & having a space like Innov8HQ helps diversify experience & accelerates those opportunities. It’s collaborating to adapt & the cross-pollination of start up ideas and existing businesses, who will reap the benefits of working together. Corporates have started doing this now, and this will breed a whole new behaviour for Start Ups seeking funding avenues/vehicles & in turn, assist with the sustainability of existing businesses.
My vision for Innov8HQ is to deliver a space heaving in culture & innovative practice. Surrounded by & connected to an eclectic ecosystem of technology experts & leaders that support and resource business growth & sustainability in this digital era. In addition to this, enabling transitional pathways to attract and retain talent both locally and internationally, to help diversify skill sets and engage/export ideas/solutions more competitively & confidently in global markets. Something else I am passionate about, is to inspire more Maori & Females in the ICT sector (being both maori & female myself) where we are currently under represented. It’s an exciting time in this space as the digital world illustrates/communicates Cultural diversity and maori initiatives & ventures are having major impacts in other indigenous communities around the world. We can use the digital world to translate stories & deliver bespoke presentations to not only our native communities, but for visional & audio impaired. It's great to be bridging cultural divides and recognising there's more than one template to communicate - because the reality is, if we want a bigger audience, we need to be speaking their language.
The real question is - why "not" Dunedin? I am originally from Otago, having been born and raised just down the road in a little town called Milton, so have a nice blended heritage of Scottish/Irish & Maori (Ngapuhi). I have always had an affinity & love for Dunedin & the region - given its culture, heritage and vibrant and friendly community, so it's safe to say, I'm a bit of super fan of the city. Having moved back to the city after 13 years living in Auckland & in the UK to be closer to family - there’s a social comfort and ease living in Dunedin. The city hosts & boasts some of the finest cafes & restaurants in the country, world class Educational, Sports & Recreational facilities, in addition to being surrounded by stunning coastlines & eco-sanctuaries. But if that wasn't enough, we are spoilt for choice with commercial and residential real estate, given its affordability and rebirth of industrial/heritage precincts. There’s some incredible real estate being developed for business, & for residential investors, you can get more bang for your buck against other regions.
What sort of trends are you seeing in employment and migration to Dunedin?
I think it is improving, but employment/self employment (entrepreneurial) pathways for students/graduates/seasoned and highly skilled professionals can be improved & developed by activating a plan to identify gaps and create roles/tailored & competitive packages to attract/retain talent. I would like to think we see some positive changes in the next couple of years, as our city forges strategic relationships both locally and internationally to inspire greater trade of talent/skill sets.
Businesses today will need to prepare for a new era of employees and customers entering the market and this adds new pressure/demands on traditional business models. Alongside the investment in up-skilling our existing employee base & ageing population, we have a generation growing up in an era that is fully digital (aka digital natives), so the framework for how we respond to this, is critical. By developing a strategy 'now' that supports/nurtures digital literacy/capabilities with them from an early age to understand what drives/motivates them, will be a strategic advantage to assist our economy in the creation & preservation of talent in future.
In addition to this - I believe Dunedin has a real opportunity to embrace the recent announcement on the Highly Skilled Immigrants visa's, so I am also keen to work with other entities in the city to help create a great proposition to activate this. It's all about being able to make Dunedin a place easy to do business with, remove the red tape and roll out the red carpet (or red wine), whatever your preference is.
Tell us about Innov8HQ's Community
The idea is to have a perfect blend of startups, entrepreneurs, businesses in transition and connecting them to an ecosystem of inspiring mentors/experts to nurture and support business development and longevity. Innov8HQ’s mission is to inspire a Culture and Community that encourages individuality, creativity & diversity. It’s about creating an environment heaving in innovative and artistic flare so we can test/explore ideas and use the hub as an active showroom, so there is always something exciting and innovative that the city/community can see and use.
The important thing to understand about Innov8HQ, is that it's not just a collaborative workspace, it's about building collaborative communities to work together albeit physically or virtually & we have some great partnerships joining the wider Innov8HQ community. This includes working alongside other Hubs (both locally & internationally) and are currently creating a great network of Hub Leaders to help support each other to grow, so watch this space for some exciting times ahead.
How do you get people to Collaborate & why?
Collaboration is really a personal decision, some love it - some feel completely uncomfortable with it (at first) & it's hugely important to get the right mix to collaborate. I have seen some awkward moments when a group of people have been brought together and it can take one person to derail the purpose & momentum of it, so choose wisely. I know for myself, having run teams from remote locations & running businesses from my home, that it can become really isolating, so having people you can connect with, brainstorm with not only improves productivity & efficiencies - but morale!
How about GigCity & it's impact on Dunedin?
The "original" GigCity competition created a unity I usually only see at rugby games & festivals, it was electric and it felt amazing to be surrounded by thousands of likeminded people championing the city to eventually win the campaign. It was very successful in bringing a community together - but like any campaign, it's the action plan to activate it's reality, that is critical to it's credibility.
It is really positive to see there have been a growing number of businesses & community organisations today receiving the benefits & power of the gig, in addition to the funding schemes to support and kick start ventures.
I think the next 2 years will prove a more accurate case study to profile & as the momentum grows it will be great to see how the city & community is responding to the impact of this new infrastructure and how it is helping business & community ventures.
Perception vs Reality of living & running a business in Dunedin?
I think the perceptions of Dunedin are gradually dissipating. With the rebirth of heritage precincts bringing to life new workspaces, creative & high tech communities immerging, the street art & art scene and our eclectic café/restaurant culture. Our tourism is flourishing as heritage proclaims its unique point of difference, alongside the profiling of our stunning coastlines & wildlife, our castle and an experience like no other, as we get to enjoy world class events, under a roof at our state of the art stadium. The social media buzz has projected the craft of avid & hugely talented photographers, cinematographers to capture the 'raw', 'unseen' & beautiful Dunedin through their eyes, having a major influence on the audience it's captivating (myself included). Our student population provides an evolving & vibrant community of hope and possibilities, mixed in with a growing population of elderly who remind of us of how we got here & where we've come from. We've got a city with a great mix of pioneers. creative & ambitious people here already, and as the city continues to develop, we'll see some great things will be unveiled. As for the weather, there's nothing like a Dunner Stunner day & hey – the when it’s cold, grab a puffer jacket & woolly hat!!
P.S. (bonus episode) - nope I am not an IT expert as recently depicted in an article (although a very generous assumption). Sorry to any readers who saw this, but nope - the true depiction is, I'm just a chick on a mish (mission) who loves Dunedin & it's eclectic community, we've got something pretty special down here & together there's even more to come..... & in the words of Michael Jackson, "Don't stop till you get enough"!