May 9 & 10 2018 – Business & Bots

Auckland, 9 May – SKYCITY Theatre (7-9am)

Wellington, 10 May – Shed 6 (7-9am)


What impact could AI have on the future of your business? Join us as we explore the ideal relationship between humankind and machine intelligence, the social impacts of AI, and how a collaborative approach between humans and AI can improve business productivity and enhance customer experiences.

You’ll leave with the knowledge, insights and strategies to grow and diversify in the ever-changing landscape of New Zealand business.

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Josh Comrie – CEO & Co-Founder, Ambit


Josh is an Entrepreneur, Investor and Company Director. He’s a founder and the CEO of Ambit: a NZ owned Artificial Intelligence Platform company. He’s invested in over 20 NZ hi-tech startups, so is behind some of NZ’s most successful technology exports. He acts as a director and adviser to several and Chair of one, however some simply want his money. Prior to his AI ventures, he has a background in human capital solutions, having founded and exited from 3 highly successful brands.

Through his role as CEO, Josh advises organisations and individuals on how to extract the value from this nascent technology along with avoiding the pitfalls of new to market offerings. His perspective of AI is unique as he blends the human element, a business level view of technology and the future of work.

Sitting at the global forefront of technology, Ambit has created a proprietary Smartbot platform. In what is a rapidly expanding and evolving market, Ambit has established a local leadership position and is moving into the global market.

In his talk he will cover the history and state of AI, the current uses of the technology, why it’s likely to change the world and how you can get started.


Dr Olivia J. Erdelyi – Lecturer, University of Canterbury Law School


Olivia is a lecturer at University of Canterbury, School of Law. Benefiting from a multidisciplinary background in artificial intelligence (AI), economics, law, and political science, she is primarily specialized in AI & law and has a keen interest in studying AI’s societal impacts. She has been participating in interdisciplinary research projects and publishing in leading AI venues on topics ranging from fundamental theoretic AI research with a predominantly computer scientific focus to more applied issues revolving around the nowadays increasingly central question of how society should deal with the emergence of ever more pervasive AI technologies. Prior to this role, she worked with several international law firms and European Institutions, such as the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Commission, in the areas of corporate law and international financial regulation. As part of the worldwide efforts to revise financial stability frameworks in the aftermath of the latest global financial crisis, she contributed to European financial services and corporate group law policies. Using the insights from this regulatory policy experience, she now focuses on the daunting challenge of developing consistent international AI regulatory and governance policies in collaboration with various international stakeholders from academia, industry, and government.

Asa Cox – CEO & Co-Founder, Intela AI


Asa is CEO and Co-Founder of Intela AI, a Wellington based machine learning product development and advisory firm. Managing a team of data scientists, Intela deliver solutions across data cleansing, machine vision analytics and natural language insights. Asa is the AI translator, his broad background in business and tech enables him to connect the needs of enterprise with the best data science solution.

Mike Burke – Director, Westpac Ventures


Mike Burke is a founding member of Westpac Ventures. The innovative and entrepreneurial business unit charged with pioneering what is next in banking focusing on horizon 2 and 3 opportunities. They are the team that pioneered the launch of Cloud, API’s and consumer facing AI among many others for banking in Australasia.  Mike was the business owner that produced ‘Wes’, Westpac NZ’s artificially intelligent personal financial assistant, launching in July as the first banking chatbot in Australasia and now partners with the squad to help achieve their strategy. He enjoys anything to do with eggs benedict, is learning lots about horse farming and is expecting his first child in September 2018.

Dr Elizabeth Broadbent – Associate Professor in Health Psychology, University of Auckland


Dr Elizabeth Broadbent is an Associate Professor in Health Psychology in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She obtained an honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Canterbury University (1995), to pursue her interest in making personal robots. After becoming interested in the psychological aspects of illness and in psychoneuroimmunology, she obtained her MSc (2002) and PhD degrees (2005) in health psychology from the University of Auckland. She now combines her health psychology and robotics interests to study healthcare robotics. Elizabeth is a Vice Chair of the multidisciplinary CARES robotics group. In 2010, Elizabeth was a visiting academic at the School of Psychology at Harvard University and in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA. In 2017, she obtained a Fulbright award to return to Boston to conduct further research on companion robots. She has over 100 journal publications, including randomised trials on the health benefits of personal robots.

David Jones – General Manager, Business Growth & Innovation, WREDA


David has over twenty years’ experience of regenerating and growing city economies in both the UK and New Zealand, alongside specific experience of working in the commercial sector at start-up through to multi-national company level. He has founded a business accelerator company, in 2016 was one of The Sunday Times prestigious Maserati 100 for services to entrepreneurship and now heads up Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency’s (WREDA’s) intervention in business growth, investment and talent attraction. He is the overall lead for WREDA’s tech, screen and digital sector intervention, and as part of that has been responsible for WREDA’s role in the LookSee global talent attraction campaign that resulted in over 48,000 people applying to be part of the Wellington tech scene. David is now a member of the Partnership on AI global working group on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the workforce

Mar 21 & 22 2018 – The Future of Money

Bitcoin, blockchain and beyond


Our first event of the year was on Wednesday 21st March at SKYCITY Theatre, Auckland and Thursday 22nd March at The Piano, Christchurch.


Explore the world of cryptocurrencies and the prospect of a cashless society as we look at the future of money.


Our keynote speaker is Aaron McDonald, Co-founder & CEO of Centrality, well-known as the blockchain tech company which recently sold $80m in coin offerings, in just 6 minutes! 20 year tech industry veteran Aaron will be joined by a panel of experts as we chat blockchain & beyond.



Aaron McDonald – CEO & Co-Founder, Centrality

Aaron is a 20 year tech industry veteran with experience leading teams across all aspects of a technology company. Aaron has held leadership positions in large technology companies managing portfolios over $1b in value across engineering and architecture, product management, product development, marketing and sales.
Aaron is Founder and CEO of blockchain technology company Centrality and CTO of Swiss Crypto Investment bank Blockhaus.


Alex Sims – Associate Professor, University of Auckland (blockchain researcher & enthusiast)

Alex Sims is an Associate Professor in the Department of Commercial Law at the University of Auckland. She is a blockchain researcher and enthusiast and has presented on blockchain and cryptocurrencies to many organisations both in New Zealand and internationally. In late 2016, Alex was part of a team awarded a grant by the Law Foundation on the legal regulation of digital currencies in New Zealand and Australia. As part of the Law Foundation project, Alex has looked at the possible introduction of a New Zealand central bank issued cryptocurrency and the form that such a cryptocurrency should take.

Zoe Wallis – Head of Transactions & Payments, Kiwibank

Zoe Wallis heads up the Transactions and Payments business at Kiwibank where she is responsible for overseeing the bank’s domestic payments solutions for customers including credit, debit and prepaid cards, as well as everyday banking. Prior to this Zoe was the Chief Economist at Kiwibank where she headed up the economics team, producing forecasts and research for the NZ economy. Prior to joining Kiwibank, Zoe worked in a range of roles in the Financial Markets Department at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

Rachel Paris – Founder, The Blockchain Boutique & former partner at Bell Gully

Rachel is a specialist financial services lawyer with a strong interest in blockchain technology and leads Bell Gully’s Fintech team. She advises financial institutions, private equity funds, corporates and blockchain businesses on a broad range of financing and capital markets transactions and regulatory issues. Rachel has been a partner at Bell Gully since 2009 and holds an LLM (International Finance) from Harvard Law School.

Nov 15 2017 – Sharing Economy

A whole new marketplace shaking up the business world around us!

Both disrupting and creating new business, sharing economy is driven by creative, new technologies, social media connections, peer to peer sites & mobile apps.
This economic system in which we share assets and services, typically by means of the Internet is both disrupting and creating new business.

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Nick Shewring – Co-founder, BizDojo


Nick Shewring is the co-founder of New Zealand’s national coworking and collaboration providers BizDojo, founders support programme Founders Central, and Colo; a platform that connects people with coworking solutions that aren’t just inspiring and functional, but also the perfect culture and community fit. Nick is passionate about supporting individuals and their ideas, seeing coworking not just as a solution for workers in search of a home, but also as a way to improve economic outcomes through collaboration, shared aims, and increased connections between people.

Around New Zealand, Nick and the BizDojo team help run economic development initiatives with local governments, which hold the BizDojo approach to coworking at their core; while using ideas such as community, connection and support to build out bespoke learning opportunities and programming for founders, entrepreneurs and their businesses.


Priti Ambani – Co-founder, The Next Billion


Priti Ambani is co-founder at The Next Billion, an impact-driven enterprise that leverages the power of the “Crowd” as a means to enable the growing number of women-led enterprises worldwide with ‘Access to growth opportunities’. The company launched Globally Spotted – a discovery platform for smart and innovative women led business from the world over.
Priti is a thought leader on the platform and digital economy and over the last 8+ years, she has worked on global teams to grow early stage startups, for-profit and non-profit entities creating impact through digital collaboration and crowds. She works with organisations that are keen to harness the productivity of the Internet to solve societal challenges, particularly within the changing dynamics of the future of work and society in the midst of exponential technologies. Priti is also working with the core team at Tech Futures Lab as business + innovation faculty, helping Kiwis be better prepared for the tech-enabled careers in the 21st century.
She is an Environmental Engineer by education and was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She moved to Auckland with her husband and sons in 2015 after 13+ years in the United States. Follow her on Twitter @envirotarian

Professor Christoph Schumacher – Professor of Innovation and Economics, Massey University


Professor Christoph Schumacher is Professor of Innovation and Economics at Massey University and Director of the Knowledge Exchange Hub.
Christoph holds under and post graduate degrees in Engineering, International Business and Economics from Karlsruhe University (Germany), the University of Auckland and Massey University. He has also recently completed a course in Big Data Analytics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA).
Christoph has previously worked as a business consultant in Germany and New Zealand and joined Massey University in 2003.
Christoph’s area of specialisation is game theory with research interests in mathematical economics, machine learning, health economics, sports and economics and experimental game theory. He has published in top international journals such as the Journal of Health Economics, Applied Economics, the European Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Industrial Economics and Economics Letters.
Christoph is an advisor to the Auckland District Health Board and the Auckland Council and has produced several reports for local governments and businesses. In 2002 he was awarded the Jan Whitwell Memorial Prize by the New Zealand Association of Economists for outstanding research by a young scholar.

Danu Abeysuriya – Founder & CTO – Rush Digital


Danu’s specialist engineering studio Rush Digital has swelled to over 50 staff since it was founded in 2010. International clients include Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Under Armour, Heineken, BBC and ExxonMobil, with local clients like Z Energy, Sky TV, ASB, Vector and Fonterra also looking to Rush for leadership in developing innovative technology solutions.

Danu and his team of hand-picked software engineers never fail to deliver projects they’ve taken on. Collaborating with a unique breadth of skills allows them to create original solutions for every brief, and they’re regarded within the industry as the fail-safe team to turn to for over 150 projects, with strengths in AR/VR/CV and IOT.

Danu graduated with honours from the University of Auckland in 2007 and remains CTO of Rush Digital and subsidiaries.
He was the winner of the 2016 NZ Hi-Tech Young Achiever Award, and was nominated for the NZ Hi-Tech Award 3 years in a row.
On a more personal level, Danu is passionate about social equity and fairness; he has always been involved in philanthropic and non-profit organisations in poverty alleviation and education. He believes that technology has the power to truly serve humanity and make the world better for everyone.