It’s time for New Zealanders to fully embrace the technology sector, says Orion Health Founder and CEO Ian McCrae.

I grew up on a farm and while it was a great lifestyle the options were rather limited. Common boys’ names were Murray, Trevor, or Bruce. You were classified as either from a dairy or sheep farm, and you played cricket in the summer and rugby in the winter. You drank either DB or Lion Red, or Waikato if you were unfortunate to live around Hamilton, as I did. How things have changed! 

Many of us came from Great Britain and we sold everything to Great Britain. But then Britain ditched us in the 1970s for the European Union. Our dependency on growing grass was not enough to keep our nation in financial clover. We simply had to diversify our economy.

Diversification was given a boost with Helen Clark’s Knowledge Wave initiative in 2000 and the momentum has continued. We now need to recognise that we are no longer a one-dimensional farming nation.

From a half-a-hectare of land in Auckland, Orion Health's annual exports are worth roughly twice the value of the entire avocado sector and we are approaching half the value of the apple sector. Our exports are ideas and knowledge.

Our software manages over 102 million patient health records around the world. Doctors in Istanbul, London, Bangkok and Greenville, Louisiana are using our tech to help them make the best decisions for their patients. We’re a global company with a team of over 1250 smart people working for us.

We’re poised to take advantage of the most exciting development in healthcare since the invention of penicillin – the advent of precision medicine. This is the practice of enabling personalised healthcare by capturing and analysing vast amounts of information about a person’s health and wellbeing which includes genetic, environmental and social data.

New Zealand can lead the world in enabling precision medicine as we already have a unified and progressive healthcare system and our levels of automation are envied globally.

There will always be a place for the cow in the New Zealand economy - but the opportunities in technology are elephantine. Let’s raise a glass of Pinot Noir to Kiwi innovation, and then let’s get on with continuing to grow our awesome tech sector.