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Assisting local businesses to be more innovative

New start-up Tairawhiti business Piki Tech is under the wing of regional business adviser Malcolm Mersham.

This free service is offered by the Takihoko Business team (formerly Activate Tairawhiti) of Trust Tairawhiti (formerly Eastland Community Trust).

Mr Mersham is one of two regional business advisers employed by the trust and says businesses like Piki Tech are benefiting from the region's isolation, not being impaired by it — and they are innovative.

“There is a lot of appetite to support businesses with a technological and innovation background,” he said.

“Piki Tech is a Maori-based tech business with a unique lens over what that business could be.”

Mr Mersham is the region's innovation specialist and acts as a conduit for the Callaghan Innovation service here.

Callaghan partners with ambitious businesses of all sizes, providing a range of innovation and research and development services to suit each stage of growth.

Mr Mersham says there is a need for the region to diversify its economy and improve stability.

“The reason these programmes are important is because as a region, our economy is heavily reliant on primary industries that provide raw materials to the world.

“In order to build a sustainable economy we need to increase our region's ability to create value-added products and services.

“One of the key ways to do this is by helping local businesses become more innovative.

“Interestingly, New Zealand as a whole suffers from poor productivity when compared to other nations within the OECD, hence the Government's push to help drive the economy in this direction.”

His work as a business adviser is basically to help businesses get good foundations. After an initial assessment meeting, he provides a recommendation for the next steps. He also educates around what is available for the business, and meets with the people behind the business regularly to help guide them.

Malcolm Mersham