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Dave Ferguson : Nuro

Dave Ferguson is the co-founder and president of Nuro, a technology company focused on accelerating the benefits of robotics for everyday life. Nuro has developed and deployed a new type of unmanned self-driving vehicle, the R1, custom-built to transport goods.

Dave has worked on robotics and machine learning for nearly 20 years. Before founding Nuro, Dave was a principal engineer on Google’s self-driving program, now known as Waymo, serving as the machine learning and computer vision team lead. He also led the planning group for Carnegie Mellon University’s team that won the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge in 2007. One of his algorithms is used for long range autonomy on NASA’s Mars Rovers. He also previously conducted robotics research at Intel and developed machine learning trading strategies at Two Sigma, an investment firm.

Dave holds an MS and PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Otago. Dave has been awarded over 100 patents.

Dave Ferguson (Linkedin)



Joshua Feast : Cogito Corporation

Joshua Feast is the CEO and Co-Founder of Boston-based Cogito Corporation, an MIT Media Lab spin-out company that leverages human aware technology to help professionals elevate their performance. Cogito’s AI measures how well a conversation is going by analysing vocal cues (pitch, tone, rhythm, etc.) as it is happening, to provide live coaching for front-line employees and novel behavioural insights for managers and executives. This technology is augmenting the emotional intelligence of thousands of employees in the world’s most successful Fortune 100 enterprises – improving sales results, delivering world-class service and enhancing the quality of care.

An expert on HumanAI technology and the business and societal impact it creates, Josh is regularly quoted in Forbes, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal. He holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management where he was the Platinum-Triangle Fulbright Scholar in Entrepreneurship and a Bachelor of Technology from Massey University in New Zealand.

Joshua Feast (Linkedin)


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Danny Tomsett :


Danny Tomsett is a tech visionary and relentless innovator with a passion for customer experience – so much so that under his leadership, FaceMe was the winner of the Sir Richard Branson ‘Virgin Business challenge’; and in 2018, FaceMe was recognised at the ‘Deloitte Fast 50’ NZ awards as one of the country’s fastest growing businesses, with revenue growth of 317%, alongside Danny being selected as an EY Entrepreneur of year finalist. He has a successful entrepreneurial track record – developing games at eight years old, founding and exiting a Telecommunications company he started at 25 – before starting FaceMe. FaceMe is passionate about people and how we can use technology to change people’s lives. FaceMe enables companies to reimagine the customer experience of the future through a conversational platform designed around leveraging the ‘human touch’ to create amazing customer experiences.

Danny Tomsett (Linkedin)




David Downs

A Mild Touch of the Cancer – Courage in the face of personal adversity.

In his ‘day job’, David Downs is a General Manager at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), working with the Technology sector to help fast growing tech companies grow internationally, and leading a cross-government project for the Agritech sector. David has held various roles at NZTE, in the Services, Customer and Corporate Services teams.

David spent 13 years at Microsoft, in New Zealand and as regional director for South East Asia and has set up and run successful businesses of his own. David is a published author on New Zealand Innovation, with two highly successful books – No.8 Re-wired, and No.8 Recharged.

He’s an ex-comedian, TV and Radio actor, and a genetically modified organism who documented his battle with cancer in the book A Mild Touch of the Cancer. David regularly presents and gives talks on his cancer journey and on the power of positive thinking and optimism.

David Downs (Linkedin)




Leanne Kemp : Everledger

Leanne is the Founder & CEO of Everledger, a leading emerging technology enterprise that tracks the provenance of high-value assets on a global digital ledger in an authenticated immutable manner.

Her leadership role in technology has been recognised, winning awards including the 2018 Advance Australia Award, Innovator of the Year 2018 at the Women in IT Awards (London) as well as being named in UK Business Insider’s 26 Coolest Women in UK Tech 2016. Leanne was named Brummell Magazine’s Top 30 Female Innovators 2016 and is also an IBM Champion for 2018.

Leanne is an appointed member of the World Economic Forum’s Blockchain Council and a Co-Chair for the World Trade Board’s Sustainable Trade Action Group and is on the IBM Blockchain Platform Board of Advisors. She is also Queensland’s third Chief Entrepreneur, following on from Steve Baxter and inaugural Chief, Mark Sowerby.

Leanne Kemp (Linkedin)



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Todd Welling : Overdose

Todd is the Founder and Group CEO of Overdose. Prior to moving into Digital Commerce in 2013, Todd had an impressive international career leading high-performance teams for Morgan Stanley & UBS across London, New York and Singapore, before relocating to New Zealand to follow entrepreneurial pursuits.

Todd and his diverse team at Overdose drive business change through transformative digital strategies, clinical execution and innovative activations. Overdose was recently awarded ‘Best of the best’ Emerging Business at the Westpac Awards, and reported a 1350% growth in the past 2yrs towards an 8-figure business. They are performing more international trade than local, and have pioneered exporting a technology service, rather than a product. Overdose have grown from 2 to 120+ staff across 3yrs in Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, London, New York & Kiev.

Todd Welling (Linkedin)


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Michael Carden : Joyous

Mike is the Founder of Joyous – live employee feedback. He has had two exits: CEO/Founder Sonar6 acquired by Cornerstone OnDemand; Chairman Promapp acquired by Nintex. Mike is also Chairman at AskNicely.

A winner of Writemark Plain English Award, and the Bayer Innovators Award, he is also an Author on marketing in start up businesses [On a teleconference no-one knows you’re a dog]. Has crashed a plane into the sea.

Michael Carden (Linkedin)




Aliesha Staples : Staples VR

Aliesha Staples is a high profiled New Zealand producer and pioneer of VR, AR and new emerging technologies. She was the winner of the high tech wards for both 2017 and 2018, she wont the NZ business women leaders award and the ITX excellence in digital health award in 2018.

She is the founder and director of StaplesVR a company that has grown to cater for an international clientele and has been awarded multiple accolades for its work. Aliesha is highly sought after both locally and abroad as a producer of AR/VR content and has produce projects for studios and television networks including warner brothers, paramount pictures, TVNZ and ABC.

Aliesha Staples (Linkedin)

Twitter: @StaplesRentals

Instagram: @Staples_VR

Facebook: @staplesvr


Andrew Mayfield : Optimal Workshop

The Optimal Way

Andrew is CEO at Optimal Workshop, a Wellington based software company making discovery tools for user researchers.

Optimal Workshop is actively cultivating an environment of freedom and responsibility where everyone can do their best work.

Andrew Mayfield (Linkedin)




Andrew Stevens : Coherent Solutions

From his Auckland headquarters, Andy leads a talented team on a single-minded mission - to build a world-leading photonics test and measurement company with customers around the globe.

Since 2013 Andy has led Coherent Solutions from an IP based spin off into a trusted provider of high-end optical telecommunications test and measurement equipment. They now count some of the world’s largest technology companies and research organisations as customers, including NASA and Nokia. The company sells an expanding range of products direct to customers, and through regional distributors and global partners including National Instruments.

With revenue growing at over 80% last year and a newly opened office in Austin, Texas, Coherent Solutions is preparing for rapid growth in expanding industries such silicon photonics, Lidar and free-space satellite communications.

Andrew Stevens (Linkedin)


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Giovanni Russello : University of Auckland

Giovanni Russello is an Associate Professor and the Head of the School of Computer Science at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Giovanni is the founding Director of the Cyber Security Foundry, the first New Zealand multi-disciplinary centre in Cyber Security aiming at improving the collaboration between industry and academia. He was the funding CEO of a startup in smartphone security between 2013 and 2014.

He received his M.Sc. (summa cum laude) degree in Computer Science from the University of Catania, Italy in 2000, and his Ph.D. degree from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in 2006. He did his postdoc in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, UK.

His research interests include policy-based security systems, privacy and confidentiality in cloud computing, smartphone security, and applied cryptography.

He has published over 100 research articles in these research areas and has two granted US patents in smartphone security.

Giovanni Russello (LinkedIn)

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Sean Molloy : Avertana

Sean Molloy is a passionate environmentalist and technologist. He has worked in three high growth environmental technology development companies, with his work taking him to 28 countries. Sean is a co-founder and CEO of Avertana, a company re-thinking and re-designing how industry functions, and creating circular economy technology. Avertana has raised >$30m, has grown from 3 to 33 staff in 5 years, and developed a set of technologies currently in commercialisation.

Sean Molloy (LinkedIn)



Ian Pollard : Delta Insurance

Ian is the consummate insurance professional with a twist. His 15 year AIG career took him to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and Auckland. He was responsible for developing AIG’s professional liability practice in the Asia Pacific region and moved to New York to manage their US$750m Global Professional Liability and Cyber Risk portfolio. Shortly after the GFC, Ian decided to relocate with AIG and settle in New Zealand with his kiwi wife and start a family.

Ian started Delta Insurance in 2014 with business partner Craig Kirk. Their international experience and local insight suggested that there was an opportunity for a new entrant in the Liability and Financial Lines market, which they considered to be resistant to change and largely insulated from some of the global innovations they had witnessed first-hand.

With a focus on embracing change, the next five years saw Delta grow exponentially with the market appreciating their product innovation, transparency and exceptional customer service. With the New Zealand operation now well established with 36 staff and an office in Singapore, Ian is now focused on realising their goal of ten Delta offices in the Asia Pacific region within ten years.

Ian Pollard (LinkedIn)


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Mahmood Hikmet : Ohmio

Mahmood is Head of Research and Development at Ohmio. Experienced and educated Engineer with a focus on intelligent transportation systems and mobility.

Interested in science education and presenting technical concepts in an easy to understand and digestible manner. Working with self-driving cars, AI, machine learning, IoT, embedded systems and cloud computing

Mahmood Hikmet (LinkedIn)


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Steven Saunders : Robotics Plus

Steven Saunders has 35 years’ experience in the food and Horticultural sectors. He is the founder, owner and Director of the Plus Group of companies, which specialises in horticulture management, orchard ownership, propriety fruit varieties, Post-Harvest ownership, global pollen production, Robotic development (Robotics Plus ltd, which was invested in by Yamaha Motor Co. Japan), international ventures, applied technology, environmental research, innovation and science.

Steven is the co-founder of Newnham Park Innovation Centre in Tauranga (NZ), a major stakeholder in the Kiwifruit Industry, and an active Angel investor. Steven is a founder, shareholder and Director of WNT Ventures tech incubator and a founding shareholder Director of PlantTech a Regional Research Institute, both are Private sector - Government initiatives.

Steven Saunders (LinkedIn)