Foreign entrepreneurs 'respected' New Zealand's 'science-led' COVID-19 response despite being shut out of country - innovation group

  • 27/07/2022

The boss of a group working to attract entrepreneurs to New Zealand believes the country needs to turn its focus from being a "fortress" to "future focussed" as it begins to emerge from COVID-19.

New Zealand's brain drain problem has come to light in recent months, with a poll earlier in July showing more than 1 million Kiwis were actively considering leaving the country. 

Rosalie Nelson, the chief executive of the Edmund Hilary Fellowship - which is working to get skilled entrepreneurs previously turned away from COVID-19 back on New Zealand shores - told AM a pivot was needed to be inviting for those looking for opportunities overseas.

"In all of my engagement… what I was hearing is that they actually respected the stand that Aotearoa New Zealand took and the very science-led approach," she said. "Where it became difficult was where we had the challenges around MIQ and the rest of the world was opening up and, also, the rest of the world was seeking to attract them as talent and they were saying, 'Look, I still want to come, but when? And how is that going to happen?'

"What I would say is that there are some very significant lessons that we could learn from this because we are attractive to entrepreneurs."

New Zealand needed skills for the future, Nelson added.

"We need people who can come in and build those businesses," she said. "We also know that we need to have transformative industries… so what I would argue is that rather than just focusing, first of all, on a dollar amount or a particular skill - that we think really seriously about what attracts entrepreneurs to this country."

Watch the full interview above.