News and Success Stories

Published 21 April 2023

Connecting NZ's Airborne Tech

Sophie Rebbeck about to address the room at the Connecting NZ's Airborne Tech event.Helping innovators take flight

New Zealand's airborne tech sector is a fast-evolving industry, with a growing number of scientists, industry experts, and government representatives working together to take the sector to new heights.

The innovative research and work was evident at Connecting NZ's Airborne Tech, a recent day-long event hosted by our team that brought together nearly 50 researchers, commercialisation experts, and company leaders.

Following the event, Callaghan Innovation is now engaging with four new clients. This kind of collaboration is exactly what we're passionate about, and we're thrilled to have brought the airborne tech sector together in this way.

The two C's: Collaboration and commercialisation

A key takeaway from all our events is that New Zealanders aren’t short on innovative ideas. However, translating those ideas to market-ready technologies can prove challenging. That’s why Connecting NZ's Airborne Tech focused on how to commercialise.

Researchers and tech providers pitched their projects in 15-minute presentations, where they explained the problems being solved and who could potentially adopt their tech. These presentations provided a great insight into who was doing what in the sector.

We had various commercialisation experts talk us through the many paths to commercialisation. We were also fortunate enough to have a couple of speakers share their own commercialisation journeys, including the lessons they learned along the way. This was incredibly valuable, and we hope it will inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

Unleashing the power of UAVs

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, have rapidly gained popularity and are increasingly used in various industries, including agriculture and surveying, due to their cost-effectiveness and efficiency. However, there still needs to be more awareness among people about the potential of UAVs and their capabilities.

During his presentation, Craig Simpson from Aerolab stressed the importance of educating people on what UAVs are capable of doing and how they can make our lives easier. He emphasised that creating awareness among people in different sectors is crucial to unlocking UAVs' full potential and widespread use. Simpson has been attending Fieldays events to help spread the word and show off what UAVs can bring to the agricultural sector.

Airing your ideas

One way to kickstart your airborne tech business is to participate in challenges.

During the Unmanned Aircraft Solutions presentation, Bevan Lewell and Maksym Khovalko shared their experience of participating in the Christchurch Aerospace Challenge and how it provided them with a platform to showcase their ideas and tech, later resulting in opportunities that put a spotlight on them and helped progress their company.

Getting involved in challenges can help you gain visibility, learn new skills, and connect with like-minded individuals in the industry. Moreover, challenges provide an opportunity to solve real-world problems, which can lead to the development of innovative solutions that can benefit New Zealand.

We recommend innovators in the field get involved in upcoming tech challenges, such as Space for Planet Earth Challenge 2023.