Electronic Products & Technology

Tech catalyst invigorates New Zealand firms in Canada

By Sohail Kamal, West Coast Correspondent   

Electronics aviation B.C. Commissioner CPTPP marine new-zealand tech trade

CPTPP forms comprehensive and progressive trans-pacific partnership

For the past half-decade, a free trade agreement involving New Zealand, has been a catalyst for that country’s tech companies. The trans-pacific partnership, recognized by its acronym – CPTPP, has been facilitating easier business operations in Canada. While the agreement primarily targets goods imports and exports, its benefits extend to tech sectors, improving visa access, procurement processes, and support for SMEs.

In this edition of West Tech Report, we had the opportunity to connect with Matt Ritchie, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s (NZTE) Trade Commissioner and Consul General based in Vancouver. The group discussed how this partnership has bolstered New Zealand’s tech sector and how it has supported Canada’s tech industry. In the past five years, there’s been a significant increase in New Zealand tech firms working in Canada, as a North American base, tripling the number of tech companies NZTE works with in Canada.

Matt Ritchie, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s (NZTE) Trade Commissioner and Consul General based in Vancouver.

“New Zealand tech companies are increasingly looking at Canada… as a potential North American base for their operations,” explains Ritchie.

Invest time and resources

Particularly in AI, health tech, and cybersecurity, New Zealand’s tech firms invest time and resources in understanding the market, developing their precise value propositions and ideal customer profiles for North American Markets.


“Building the correct go-to-market strategies, as none of these are necessarily the same as what they would be doing, for example, in Australia or the UK, which are other key markets for NZ tech companies,” says Ritchie. This involves intensive market research, developing distinct value propositions, and ensuring regulatory compliance, especially in data hosting, according to Ritchie. A key strategy includes locating sales and customer success functions in Canada or the US, even if product development remains offshore.

Canada’s tech hubs, notably Waterloo and Vancouver, offer a conducive environment for New Zealand’s tech start-ups. Factors like common law similarities, diverse culture, and supportive immigration policies make Canada a strategic choice. Additionally, Vancouver’s accessibility and time zone alignment with New Zealand, along with Waterloo’s vibrant tech ecosystem, provide unique advantages.

“Vancouver is one of the most easily accessible cities in Canada for New Zealand companies, primarily due to direct flights to and from Auckland. Vancouver’s fast-growing tech talent pool, collaborative and committed tech community, and leading universities also make it an attractive location,” explains Ritchie. “The high-quality, all-season outdoor lifestyle Vancouver offers also makes it an attractive city for many New Zealand tech businesses when considering where to base their Canada business.”

Marine and aviation

These common factors contribute to helping New Zealand tech companies support Canada’s businesses, and the collaboration is leading to strides made in education, marine, SaaS, and construction tech sectors. The compatibility of New Zealand’s education systems with Canada’s, combined with technological innovations in marine and aviation, align well with Canadian needs. There are geographic reasons for this as well, as Ritchie explains.

“For marine and aviation, because of the remoteness of B.C. and Canada in general, a lot of what comes out of New Zealand suits Canada well,” Ritchie says, as both nations have a low population density. “For example, tracking tech and systems that can be put in aircrafts. A lot of these aviation companies were at the Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) Conference in Vancouver, where we had an event to connect New Zealand aviation companies targeting Canada.”

Notable examples of successful New Zealand tech companies in Canada include Xero in cloud accounting, StoryPark in education tech, Timescapes in construction sector analytics, Boxfish Robotics in underwater exploration, and Eye in the Sky in aviation safety. Moreover, the partnership with the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo has been a game-changer, providing market access and investor readiness programs to burgeoning New Zealand tech companies.

Notable success examples

Xero is one of New Zealand’s largest tech companies. A leader in cloud accounting, Xero’s small business platform provides a core accounting solution, payroll, workforce management, expenses and project management support for almost 4M subscribers around the world and almost 400,000 in North America. Xero’s North American HQ has been based in Toronto since 2018. Driven by its CAD$75M acquisition of TaxCycle (Alberta) in 2021, Xero has expanded significantly into Western Canada and has a current Canadian headcount of 250.

StoryPark is a private, secure online learning platform for early childhood educators, owners and operators of early childhood centres, and parents.  The platform involves families more actively in a child’s learning journey whilst offering new understanding and ways of working together as a team, while providing insights that enable more intentional and immediate responses and with more cohesive communication.

The relationship between Canada and New Zealand, bolstered by the CPTPP and shared values, has opened new avenues for innovation and collaboration. As New Zealand’s tech industry continues to expand its footprint in Canada, the future holds promising prospects for both countries.


To learn more, go to https://www.nzte.govt.nz/.


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