Techweek opens tonight with innovation panel talk

Heikki Ruohomaa
Heikki Ruohomaa
Dunedin will learn about smart cities and circular economies during the city's first Techweek.

Techweek starts this evening with a panel discussion from 5.45pm at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery on whether innovation is good for the world.

There will then be more than 40 events and activities around Dunedin until the event finishes on May 27, allowing residents to discover new technologies, meet innovators and get connected to Dunedin's growing technology and innovation sector.

A key speaker for the event is Heikki Ruohomaa, research manager at the Hame University of Applied Sciences in Southern Finland.

Mr Ruohomaa, who will deliver two talks next Wednesday, works on business-led rural revitalisation projects using circular economy in Finland.

He is in New Zealand working on a waste to energy initiative for the Waikato Institute of Technology.

He told the Otago Daily Times there were many opinions on what the term "smart city" meant, but to him they were "not stupid ones".

People were inclined to think that digitalisation made things smart, but it actually made them faster.

It also meant mistakes became bigger and faster.

"You have to understand smart in a different way.

"I would say that smart cities are places where people are happy, don't create any extra waste, don't pollute our environment, and basically are living in a sustainable way."

Those goals could be supported with digital solutions.

In the future there would be services provided that could not be imagined yet, and there were opportunities for new innovations and new businesses.

Mr Ruohomaa said circular economics was about using materials "again and again and again".

Europe was not rich in resources, and rather than importing them from China, or the United States, it was important to take recycling seriously.

In Finland circular economics was a core part of innovation policy.

"The use of used materials or base materials is a profitable business, so we don't have to dig materials from the mines or wherever."

Digital Community Trust chairman John Gallaher said as New Zealand's first GigCity, Dunedin had the infrastructure and vision to become a leading smart city, but needed to understand the best ways to get there.

"Learning from experts in this field is a key part of that journey."

Add a Comment