Kiwi innovators to explore
Vietnam tech opportunities


New Zealand tech entrepreneurs will experience Vietnam’s burgeoning tech industry on an Asia New Zealand Foundation visit.
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Left to right: Lee Bagshaw, Kristen Lunman, Samson Phommachack, commercial counsellor at the Vietnam Embassy in Wellington Nguyen Kim Phuong, Asia New Zealand Foundation trustee Mitchell Pham, Breccan McLeod-Lundy and Matty Blomfield

The six New Zealanders will visit the Southeast Asian country from 14 to 19 November as part of the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative, managed by the Foundation for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They will attend business meetings, learn about the tech ecosystem in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, meet New Zealand Ambassador Haike Manning and attend leading tech event Echelon Vietnam.

The participants are:

  • Lee Bagshaw (Wellington/Singapore), partner at technology law firm Simmonds Stewart. Lee acts for start-ups, high-growth tech businesses and venture capital funds in New Zealand and across Southeast Asia.
  • Matty Blomfield (Auckland), co-founder and director of agritech start-up Hectre, a software tool for apple growers to manage orchards better.
  • Ezel Kokcu (Wellington), co-founder of STQRY, a mobile platform that helps arts organisations tell their stories to visitors. STQRY has clients throughout New Zealand and the United States.  
  • Kristen Lunman (Wellington), chief operating officer of Wipster, a web-based platform that enables the review and approval of creative assets such as video. Wipster has a partnership with Vimeo.
  • Breccan McLeod-Lundy (Wellington), founder and CEO of web and mobile development company Rabid Technologies, which believes in using technology to make the world a better place. Its projects include work for the Central Bank of Timor-Leste.
  • Samson Phommachack (Wellington), co-founder of Vizbot, a cloud-based web application company focusing on innovative solutions for the Government. Phommachack is also a member of the Foundation’s Leadership Network.

The group will also visit tech hub Kiwi Connection, the brainchild of leading Kiwi entrepreneur and Asia New Zealand Foundation trustee, Mitchell Pham, who is also an NZTE beachhead advisor for Southeast Asia. Funded by Augen Software, Kiwi Connection is based in Vietnam’s largest software park, Quang Trung Software City in Ho Chi Minh, and helps New Zealand tech companies invest and conduct business in Vietnam. 

ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative project manager Adam McConnochie says the New Zealand participants will learn more about the tech sector in Vietnam by building networks with Vietnamese equivalents. 

“Vietnam’s tech sector is largely unknown in New Zealand but is growing quickly and attracting significant investment from Singapore and Silicon Valley. This visit is a great opportunity for some of our best entrepreneurs to engage with their counterparts in Vietnam and better understand the opportunities there.”

New Zealand’s trade relationship with Vietnam is its fastest-growing in Southeast Asia – growing by 120 percent between 2010 and 2015. Two-way trade is now $1 billion. While the goods trade continues to dominate, New Zealand's export of education, tourism and commercial services has become an increasingly important part of the economic relationship.

ASEAN is a grouping of 10 nations with a population of more than 620 million people and Vietnam has a free trade agreement with New Zealand through the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA.

Running since 2012, the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative has brought more than 60 dynamic entrepreneurs and business leaders from Southeast Asia to New Zealand, building business connections and facilitating trade links. This is the fourth group of New Zealanders the Asia New Zealand Foundation has taken to Southeast Asia through the initiative, following previous visits to Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.