Site logo

NZ Software Association leaves lasting legacy

The NZ Software Association (NZSA) has closed its doors after 30 years of service to an industry sector that is finally achieving the economic impact envisioned at that time.

In the 1980s software was only just becoming recognized as a separate sector and was largely individual companies working in isolation, going through painful learning curves.

However, when the 1991 NZ Government sponsored Porter Project identified software as growing four times faster than New Zealand’s exports as a whole with 10-20 times the profitability – it sparked the coming together as an industry cluster under the banner of the NZ Software Exporters Association.

Even though the sector was still small, the NZSEA united companies with an ambition to grow New Zealand’s weightless exports, leverage high education levels and create a new platform for NZ to grow from.

Today’s tech sector still shares these ambitions but is now sitting as New Zealand’s second largest export earner. Export was a big driver for the organisation in its early days, coming together with NZTE as a ‘Joint Action Group’ leading several trade missions into a variety of markets.

“It was about inspiring software companies to think bigger,” says founding member and first President, Peter Dickinson. “To make going global do able. This included bringing recognised experts to our shores, off-shore trade missions, local sharing of expertise and lifting the local industry voice in NZ. It was an amazing time of industry collaboration”.

It also sparked a name change to the NZ Software Association (NZSA) as the organisation moved to taking a more comprehensive role. Over the years it was involved in helping develop government policy, lobbying for change and supporting other tech industry initiatives.

As the NZSA’s membership grew so did its offering, coming together initially with law firm Simpson Grierson, and then Wayne Hudson of Bell Gully and  Hudson Gavin Martin to make IP protection, software contracts and other documentation affordable and accessible to all.

However, fundamental to the organisation’s existence remained the sharing of learnings. Its monthly networking events gave software companies and their founders a living resource of what to do – and not to do – as their businesses and the industry grew.

Throughout the decades, it remained a passionately industry led initiative that helped companies forge their way.  What made this even more exceptional was, unlike wine or dairy, there is no commonality of product.

The software sector covers thousands of platforms and virtually every industry vertical imaginable – but they were able to unite under the NZSA banner and start to create some change.

“In many respects the NZSA achieved what it set out to do in building a successful, sustainable software industry in New Zealand,” says outgoing President, Roger Ford. “There are now a number of more relevant, highly focused tech clusters around SaaS, gaming, agritech, fintech and more.

“While everyone involved as members and sponsors are incredibly proud of what was achieved over the years we also recognized the industry has grown and matured, with the role the NZSA played being catered for in different ways.”

In making the hard call to wind up the NZSA it lived up to its legacy. After a submission and consultation process, final funds were donated to the Angel Association Runway event and NZ Hi Tech Foundation, fulfilling its commitment to continue to support and grow software companies in New Zealand.