I was so pleased to see iPredict’s Matt Burgess fronting up on the TV3 Leaders Debate this week with a demo of a political market trend forecast using their software product. Getting their website address in front of a few hundred thousand eyeballs won’t have done them any harm at all.
I’m pleased for two reasons. Firstly, Matt is a good guy, with an intriguing product and is doing a great job as CEO of iPredict in getting the company market recognition through media, events and the web. Secondly, it validates our decision to select him as one of the presenters at the Unlimited Potential Wellington to the World event on Friday. iPredict fitted our definition perfectly in that they had a novel and scalable global opportunity but still with a relatively low profile. Moreover, iPredict is a great example of academic research that has crossed over into the mainstream business arena.
In fact the first half of our show on Friday is devoted to linking academia with entrepreneurs and investors downtown. It’s an area that we have traditionally struggled with in New Zealand. Academics normally deliver to other academics and are focussed on building a body of research during their careers. Commercialisation of research is generally a secondary consideration. That’s a shame, because more than ever we need to be moving away from selling milk fat and instead moving towards selling knowledge to pay our way in the world.
It’s a cultural issue. In southern California smart post-graduate technology students are queuing up to attend seminars on how to structure their start-up businesses and court investors. Sure, the days when even a half decent business plan would get some crazy 20 year old funding for his pet project are gone. But that’s a good thing. Money migrates to value in the end and that’s where New Zealand creativity has an advantage. But we first need to overcome the barrier of distance to major capital and consumer markets; which is why we’ve partnered with KEA to take the event global.
It’s perfect that iPredict is a successful Victoria University spinoff company. There are other interesting projects emerging from Vic that could go the same way if we can help attract entrepreneurs and capital in that direction. That is why we are taking some first steps with W2W to strengthen bridges between academia and business here in Wellington.
For an entertaining forecast of the election outcome from our friends at iPredict and a look at some other cool ICT projects around town, make your way to the Wellington to the World event from 3.45pm on Friday 7th November at the Town Hall in Wellington. Registration essential.