Mayor Len Brown is hailing this week’s summit of the Tripartite Economic Alliance in Auckland “a huge success, far beyond our expectations”.
More than 700 delegates from Auckland, Guangzhou and Los Angeles packed into the Viaduct Events Centre to pursue business opportunities and hear from world-renowned speakers and panelists over two days.
Len Brown shared the summit stage and held productive talks with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Guangzhou political leaders including the city’s Vice-Mayor Wang Dong.
“These talks have been very valuable for sharing information on the common areas our three cities face because of their strong growth. These areas include housing and transport. We will continue to share ideas.
“These two days have proven to have been a valuable opportunity to showcase Auckland and its innovative businesses. The alliance is increasing economic, trade and investment opportunities for Auckland businesses, entrepreneurs and investors with two key economic powerhouses in the Asia-Pacific region.”
He says he is already hearing successful stories from the business matching meetings between delegates at the summit and that these will open up lucrative American and Chinese markets to local Auckland businesses. The summit far exceeded its aim of 100 business matching meetings with about 300 meetings scheduled by midway through the second day.
Opportunities have ranged from significant potential deals for companies from all three cities, to small left field opportunities – such as a Chinese company which made inquiries about sourcing a container of Auckland craft beer to import.
Entrepreneur Wayne Mulligan, who spoke during the ‘Who are Maori? Their place in the world’ was approached immediately after by two potential investors.
After a presentation by Chuntao ‘Stanley’ Song, a Senior Vice President of Chinese e-commerce company Guangzhou Ruoyuchen Technology Co Ltd, he was approached by six different Auckland companies which are looking to market into China and had more than two hours of meetings.
“Thanks to the hard work of both ATEED and the Guangzhou Commission of Commerce. I am very optimistic they will lead to great business opportunities for RYC.”
Hillary Wang, of VIPSHOP Information and Technology, who spoke in the ‘Perspectives on Global Investment’ session, said the company is looking to open an Auckland office next year. The Chinese e-commerce giant already sells New Zealand goods including Hubbards and Comvita.
Another presenter from Guangzhou , Derrick Xiong of Ehang, a global leader in drone manufacturing, said he is very interested in the world-class advanced manufacturing going on in Auckland, and the company will open an operation in New Zealand.
The summit enabled Screen Auckland’s screen attraction specialists to have a number of productive meetings with producers from both Guangzhou and Los Angeles – including doors which were opened with a senior executive from a major US studio.
The producers were here seeking content, investible opportunities, and looking at Auckland and New Zealand as a screen production destination.
There was a lot of interest in discussions about virtual reality production. Screen Auckland was also able to introduce Auckland producers to Chinese companies which are seeking content.
Henderson-based company Rockbind, which has developed and manufactures strong durable coloured surfacing products calls the summit “life changing.”
Company director Linda Buhagiar says: “We all have made so many what I call ‘friends in business’.
She spoke to a senior Guangzhou government official and within hours he had connected her with an influential Chinese industrialist who is the third most dominant seller on gigantic Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba.
Things moved fast. On the summit’s second morning, Linda’s company hosted the industrialist and an interpreter at Rockbind’s factory – having explained New Zealand’s market is not of the scale he was used to seeing in China.
“He sees real opportunity for a potential licenced distribution of our products through Alibaba and utilising his sales and marketing teams in China.”
At the summit, Rockbind was also able to have preliminary discussions with a West Coast US urban design company, with a view to a potential licencing agreement.
Several Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were also signed. Len Brown says this is a fantastic example of the outcomes and connections this tripartite alliance is delivering for all three cities.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by the Guangzhou Urban Planning Design survey Research Institute (GZPI), Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) and the Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) Design Alliance to set up an urban design alliance to benefit the sustainable development of the three cities.
Len Brown says this will enable the three cities to learn about the value of each city’s design principles by sharing city to city knowledge of urban design, sustainability and smart city technology and identify business partnerships by sharing information on future public and private projects, bidding processes and assist in increasing market access.
MoUs signed between Guangzhou and Auckland-based entities and, witnessed by the Mayor of Auckland and visiting Guangzhou Vice Mayor Wang Dong, included a Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement by Guangzhou Port Company Limited and Zespri International Ltd.
As a result of an earlier MoU between Auckland and Guangzhou, ATEED CE Brett O’Riley, Mayor Brown and Vice Mayor Wang Dong unveiled a plaque paving the way for a China NZ innovation centre. The ceremony was at Auckland’s ATEED-run GridAKL innovation precinct in Wynyard Quarter. When created, the centre will work with Auckland’s young technology companies.
Mayor Brown says it’s ground-breaking that both countries want to drive innovation and work together on new start-ups.
Four MoUs were also signed by Auckland and Guangzhou and the University of Auckland on science and technology collaborative studies into cancer, new anti-diabetic medicines, degenerative diseases and obesity related metabolic diseases.
Two were with between the University of Auckland and Jinan University and the other two with Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health – Chinese Academy of Sciences.
While it’s not possible at this very early stage to put an exact dollar figure on the likely multi-million dollar deals arising out of the summit Mayor Brown say they will certainly fuel Auckland’s economic growth and be extremely beneficial in opening up doors for Auckland businesses.
The alliance, signed in November 2014 in Guangzhou, aims to help the three cities create jobs and enhance trade, investment and economic opportunities based on common themes such as innovation and technology.
The event, developed on behalf of Auckland Council by ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development), coincides with this week’s Auckland’s inaugural Techweek AKL 2016, featuring a range of innovation events across the city.
The third Tripartite Economic Summit will be held in Guangzhou next year.