This article was published on 24 August 2020
In the midst of helping the nation respond to the COVID-19 crisis, healthtech innovator Emergency Q has been recognised with two NZ Hi-Tech Awards.
Emergency Q, whose software enables people to actively help reduce stress on our health system, was named Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau – Māori Company of the Year, sponsored by Callaghan Innovation.
It also won the Kiwibank Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service award and was a finalist in the NZ Growth Capital Partners Hi-Tech Start-Up Company of the Year category.
The awards, which are run by the not-for-profit NZ Hi-Tech Trust, were announced at a virtual event on Friday night (21 August), with more than 1,500 people taking part via livestream.
Three other technology industry leaders – and the Māori entrepreneurs behind them – were recognised as finalists in the 2020 Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau: Plink Software, KIWA Digital and NZ Trade Group. KIWA Digital was also commended in the category.
It’s been a busy year for Auckland-based Emergency Q, whose software reduces overcrowding in hospital Emergency Departments (EDs) by up to 15%. The platform creates a live connection between ED and urgent care clinic (UCC) staff, as well as patients with minor issues like earache and sprains. It also allows patients and their whānau to compare wait times via their smartphone and make informed decisions about where to get treatment.
Founded in 2016, the company had been pursuing offshore markets in Germany and Singapore before COVID-19 hit, but has since been focused on aiding NZ’s pandemic response – in particular supporting the many whānau struggling as a result of the health crisis.
The firm re-engineered the front end of its mobile app, with support from the Government’s COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund, to offer users guidance on everything from finding COVID-19 testing centres, to how to access mental health and whānau support, and employment advice.
Morris Pita, Emergency Q founder and chief executive, acknowledges it’s a challenging time for whānau, as well as healthcare and other essential workers, and the awards are great validation for the efforts of the Emergency Q team to support the people they serve.
“We’ve also always considered the Hi-Tech Māori Company of the Year in particular one of the toughest categories to win and we’re really honoured to be part of that lineage alongside previous winners such as Straker Translations and Robotics Plus,” says Pita. “These are phenomenal companies and we’re hugely honoured to be part of that story.”
Callaghan Innovation group manager Māori economy Aroha Armstrong says the awards recognise excellence in the tech sector, and Callaghan Innovation is proud to sponsor the Hi-Tech Māori Kamupene o te Tau.
“Each and every year we see a diverse range of Māori companies creating globally significant technologies that are commercially driven, and are also solving problems and contributing to better social outcomes,” says Armstrong.
“These are the stories we need to highlight in this time of unrest and economic upset.”
Finalist Plink Software uses technology to connect Māori to their identity through language and whakapapa (ancestry). Its SaaS platform Te Ao Hunga is designed to help iwi manage their members, and their whakapapa, in order to better connect and serve their people. Plink has also developed learning, language and translation apps, and brings a unique kaupapa (ideas) Māori approach to the design of all its solutions.
NZ Trade Group has developed innovative software that helps great tradies become great businesspeople. As tradies themselves, the three founders brought deep empathy and understanding of electricians’ businesses, and developed software to solve the most common business problems tradies face. They have also created a strong community to ensure their members connect, and continue to upskill and access support.
KIWA Digital specialises in experiential app development, and is a world leader in interactive education through technology, for both this generation and the next. The firm, which was founded in 2003, harnesses cutting-edge technology to help businesses transform their content strategies and adapt their content across multiple languages and cultures.
All four finalists in the Hi-Tech Māori Kamupene o te Tau are Callaghan Innovation customers, and have accessed a range of services including R&D Grants and sector advice and support.
Armstrong says more Māori tech startups are appearing every year, and in the post-COVID-19 environment Callaghan Innovation is seeing increasing numbers of well-established Māori companies looking to pivot and innovate with technology.
“Through crisis comes innovation, and Callaghan Innovation is a great place to get support to help achieve your aspirations.”
The 2020 NZ Hi-Tech Award winners are:
Xero Hi-Tech Young Achiever Award
Winner: Craig Piggott
Visa Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Public Good Award
Winner: Precision Driven Health
IBM Most Inspiring Individual Award
Winner: Dr Michelle Dickinson
ATEED Hi-Tech Creative Technology Solution Award
Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Maori Company of the Year Award
Winner: Emergency Q
Duncan Cotterill Most Innovative Hi-Tech Software Solution Award
Endace Most Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product Award
Kiwibank Most Innovative Hi-Tech Services Award
Winner: Emergency Q
NZTE Most Innovative Hi-Tech Solution for the Agritech Sector Award
Paymark Best Contribution to the NZ Hi-Tech Sector by an Internationally Headquartered Company
NZ Growth Capital Partners Hi-Tech Start-up Company of the Year
Winner: Dawn Aerospace
Coretex Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year
Most Innovative Deep Tech Solution
Winner: Mint Innovation
PwC NZ Hi-Tech Company of the Year Award