In this post, Taranaki-based entrepreneur, Adnan Belushi, shares his views on how New Zealand can better position itself as a global leader in innovation.
Article by Adnan Belushi, co-founder of Johnson Corner
Humanity is headed towards a radically different direction to make the world a better place. The question I ask myself is; what role does New Zealand, as a country, have to play to ensure humanity is headed in the right direction, and global problems are addressed the best way possible?
Hi, I'm Adnan and I grew up in the United Arab Emirates. A country that experienced radical change since its birth in 1971. I grew up with the mentality that we have to be outrageous and aggressive about what's possible and then, attempt to execute our ideas. I moved to New Zealand 10 years ago and have been working in the innovation sector since I landed in Aotearoa. My experience has made me realise the importance of New Zealand's Innovation Ecosystem and the role it can play in the world. My passion for it led me to study the ecosystem for 5 years, as part of my master's research paper. I think New Zealand has a significant role to play in advancing humanity and earth, however, it requires significant transformation. To contribute, I have recently aligned all my work around four ambitious missions that I think can make New Zealand entrepreneurial, productive and a global leader in innovation.
#1 The Incubator of Global Problems
There are many New Zealanders doing amazing work in this space. For instance, Yoseph Ayele at Edmund Hillary Fellowship. I truly believe that New Zealand has the potential of becoming an incubator to solutions for global problems. I say this because we are great at producing entrepreneurs and innovators; our size and location mean that we are not afraid of experimenting with ideas. We can do this by investing in creative infrastructures that attract, develop and retain talent in the innovation industry. We will also need to adopt Entrepreneurial Management in many levels (especially government and large enterprises) to increase productivity and growth in making New Zealand an incubator. Lastly, let's be bold and setup a new economic development infrastructure for startups only - just like The Government of Dubai setting up Dubai Future Foundation.
#2 Interconnected Regions
Every region is gearing up for a major transition to modernise infrastructure and attract innovators and entrepreneurs. Lifestyle and the cost of living is a big draw card. Regions have a crucial role to play in growing New Zealand's innovation ecosystem, however, the challenge lies in shifting the regional mindset from "singular inward thinking" to "collective outward thinking". The conventional resource allocation system has created a competition amongst regions who are fighting for attracting people to grow local economy and funding for accelerating the growth of regional innovation ecosystems. There is a big opportunity to make all regions interconnected so the exchange of knowledge, resources and investment can take place in a way that helps accelerate the growth of 'Regional New Zealand' instead of slowing things down with outdated processes and focusing on individual regions ( let's do more of collective regional innovation initiatives).
#3 Producing Innovators and Entrepreneurs
The future generation of kiwis are innovators and entrepreneurs. While Denmark is encouraging its citizens to have more children, New Zealand has more than a million people who were born after 1995. We have millennials taking leadership positions, Gen Z joining the workforce and Gen Alpha joining around 2030. We are in a great position to invest into developing innovator and entrepreneur skills of young people and ensure that we continue to produce talent that is relevant for the 4th, 5th and 6th evolution of humanity and industry.
#4 Telling our Innovation Story
We are bloody good at promoting New Zealand to attract tourists and done a great job at growing our tourism industry. We are great at telling stories and narratives as to why everyone should visit New Zealand. We don't do it well when it comes to our innovations - the things we as a nation, are proud of. We are getting better at it, however, a lot of work is required over the next 10 years to get better at selling New Zealand as an innovation nation. The government's investment to showcase New Zealand businesses in Dubai Expo 2020 is a great example. I have started working on three ventures in an interconnected fashion and have aligned to the above four ambitious missions that I'm sure many of you share with me. This is where I'm channelling my energy and time for the next 20 years.
This is just a short write-up. I'm currently writing a short-essay on these four ambitious missions and will share with everyone once its ready.