Growing the export potential of New Zealand’s digital technology companies, with an initial focus on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) firms (and game development as a future priority sub-sector).
Much of the activity in the digital technologies sector is export-oriented, generating new revenue and helping to diversify New Zealand’s exporting base. MBIE has been working with industry to explore the growth potential of two sub-sectors with high export growth and potential: SaaS and game development.
SaaS businesses create and sell software services that can be accessed anywhere and anytime over the internet. As SaaS products are predominantly productivity tools, the technology is creating both an industry and lifting the productivity of New Zealand businesses. The SaaS business model has the advantage that it creates resaleable intellectual property through research and development or creative design, making it hard to replicate and inherently high value. Additionally, it allows for weightless exports that have the potential for significant scale with limited impact on inputs.
kiwiSaaS was established in late 2021, as a community-building initiative to connect the businesses working in New Zealand’s SaaS sector. Its first year was funded by MBIE, and continued funding of $11.2 million for the next three years has been provided through Budget 2022. The key purpose of kiwiSaaS is to improve the learning environment for business leaders, founders, and employees, by providing them with easy access to relevant networks and information.
SaaS Focused Short Courses
To realise the growth potential that is available from an increasing global demand for SaaS services, New Zealand’s SaaS businesses will need to continually increase their focus on skills. The development of short courses is an opportunity to support the upskilling of the talent pool and equip more SaaS firms with the skills needed to scale up a business/product and enter the global market to achieve accelerated export growth.
The SaaS Database will collect the necessary data to address the data shortfall in the sector and create opportunities for benchmarking so that SaaS firms can measure and monitor growth against that of peers. Over time, the database will become a source of reliable and up-to-date data on the sub-sector and look to contribute and inform national statistics efforts.
Support for the Game Development Sector
Businesses developing interactive media will play an increasingly important role in our economy and society. Game development is a subset of interactive media. Game development businesses are often creating their own intellectual property assets that are retained in New Zealand, and are supporting creative and software development roles.
MBIE commissioned a report on the gaps and opportunities in the existing investment ecosystem within New Zealand for small and medium-sized interactive game development studios. MBIE is assessing the recommendations from this report and is working with Ministers on options to support the growth of the game development sector.
In November 2022, the Government announced new and stable funding for the Dunedin-based Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) to establish new regional hubs that will provide contestable grants and skill development to game development studios in the lower and upper North Island.