New Zealand 'Friendlier' to Start-Up Companies Than Australia

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By Reissa Su | June 11, 2014 4:08 PM EST

New Zealand is "more friendly" to start-up companies than Australia. Hobart native Craig Richardson is living proof of start-up success in New Zealand. When he left his home in Sydney to start his own tech company, he hasn't looked back since, according to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Richardson's company develops technology for fighting crime. Like other New Zealand-based companies, he gives credit to the government for part of his success across. This is contrast to Australia where the Abbott government scrapped several research grants and reduced the tax incentive for research and development projects.

According to reports, New Zealand's digital economy has contributed $2 billion worth of exports to the economy in 2013. Four start-up companies in the country are preparing to be listed in the New Zealand Stock Exchange. Gentrack, Serko, Orion Health and Vista Entertainment are the start-ups soon to be up for public offering.

With Richardson as the founder, Wynyard Group builds software for the Australian Federal Police, the New Zealand police and the London Metropolitan Police to predict crime. The company is based in Auckland. Richardson said his data analytics company now has a market capitalisation of $260 million after the company's listing in the New Zealand Stock Exchange in the previous year.

When Richardson was asked if he would have had the same success if his start-up had launched in Australia, he said "not a chance."

Richardson revealed the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) is "actively trying" to get his company and others to also list in Australian. He said the ASX may have seen technology companies "coming to market" which indicates the government knows the importance of research and development.

Richardson's start-up makes software to analyse patterns of behaviour to accurately predict crime which includes drug trafficking. He said he enjoyed the benefits of New Zealand government's "holistic" efforts to improve boost technology and innovation.

According to reports, the Kiwi government offers an apprenticeship program for "highly skilled" graduates and post-graduates of engineering, maths, science and technology. The New Zealand trade mission also offer support for products overseas.

Richardson said the start-up community is heavily supported by Prime Minister John Key, Treasurer Bill English and Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce. New Zealand's digital economy is on the right track and the sentiment is echoed by the country's most successful tech company, Xero, with a market cap of $3.4 billion or NZ$3.74 billion.

Chris Ridd, managing director of Xero's Australian operations, said the company may still be generating a significant loss, but it is actively supported by government. The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise agency has helped Xero in launching its accounting software business in Britain and the U.S. 

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