2019 is set to be another year of technology, bringing new ways of doing things and disrupting the status quo.
New Zealand thriving through these developments depends on how curious, adventurous and collaborative the country is.
- Space tech and precision data
One of the biggest opportunities for Kiwi entrepreneurs is the democratisation of space with garage innovators now taking on huge and deep pocketed international players like NASA.
The true golden space opportunity lies in the vast amount of data supplied by new satellites in orbit, particularly the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites.
This data and its accuracy will propel a phenomenal amount of innovation and research, from measuring waterway and forest health, to disaster response, precision farming and optimised transport.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
As AI progress quickens, machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing will set the new benchmark for automation and data driven computing.
New Zealand has some of the top AI scientists and companies in the world.
Plant-based and/or biodegradable plastics are firmly in the frame to make their mark in 2019. With the rise of ethical consumerism and anti-plastic sentiment, alternatives are attracting worldwide attention and investment.
The challenge with bioplastics is to understand new material options especially their sustainability trade-offs.
As the financial hype settles and people understand the wide potential of distributed ledgers, new applications will emerge.
Look out for streamlined supply chains that guarantee the origin and quality of food products from farm to plate.
- Smart packaging
The rise of smart packaging, mainly sensor enabled, will complement the rise of plastic alternatives.
Smart packaging innovation allows food and other products to be tracked right from origin to the end consumer while recording quality, movement and temperature information, also helping extend product life.
- 3D printing
Ease of access to 3D printing will transform the design and proto-typing phases of new product research and development (R&D).
With applications across every economic sector, even for rockets, it will liberate the way parts and products are procured.
- Autonomous vehicles and robotics
New Zealand can punch above its weight in the autonomous vehicle space with the intelligent shuttles being sought after for Korean and Chinese smart cities.
Following Christchurch Airport’s lead, New Zealand businesses will want to trial autonomous vehicles on site.
This year, however, expect to see more noise around autonomous sea-going vehicles such as submarines as well as boats.
They will drive innovation in smart aquaculture and autonomous shipping, which is advancing quickly and transforming logistics.
Rugged robotics and adaptive learning robotic systems will help address labour shortages and safety issues in farming and horticulture.
- Alternative proteins
New Zealand is well placed to lead in protein food science but what is often overlooked is the opportunity to better leverage the unique farm to plate story.
- Alternative fertilisers
Alternative fertilisers rely on organic sources of phosphorous such as manures, effluents and by-products of anaerobic digestion bioenergy plants.
With Kiwis pioneering world-leading augmented reality research out of the University of Auckland, New Zealand is in a prime position to drive the ongoing development of empathetic computing.
- Lab on a chip (LOC)
These tiny chips with one or several laboratory functions are helping innovators achieve automation and high-throughput in bio screening.
Low-cost 3D printing and laser engraving are making the manufacture of LOCs cheaper and easier, allowing more exciting technologies to emerge.