The pilot groups have been announced, read more here.

About

About the initiative

The Digital Cluster Initiative is a new visionary model aimed at accelerating regional economic development through digital transformation. A joint initiative between BNZ and Zeald, it aims to help Kiwi businesses and communities to prosper, and to thrive online.

Starting with a pilot, the Digital Cluster Initiative will partner with three business groups to build them into digitally-advanced "clusters" to show what's possible when state-of-the-art ecommerce and digital collaboration tools are put at the heart of Kiwi business communities.

Groups will be supported to lift performance and to grow, with dedicated digital support.

Each of the three pilots will be set up with ecommerce, a centralised digital marketplace, and wraparound support. They will be helped to establish their brand and position in the market, unlock and leverage digital benefits, and overcome common obstacles that many Kiwi businesses often face.

New Zealand's geography has long been a handbrake on the economy. Being small, remote and sparsely populated, many Kiwi businesses are also very small with limited market access and resourcing.

This initiative aims to overcome these obstacles and strengthen regional economies by building scale and collaboration through clustering, and using digital tools to grow and propel local businesses into new markets.

The pilot groups will become strong case studies for what digital clustering can achieve - and to show other businesses how it's done. Ultimately, the pilot will help create and refine a digital cluster blueprint that can be replicated and applied to other business groups across the regions...

...to shape a more productive, more inclusive, more digital New Zealand.

I've always wanted to help create a high-wage, high-productivity New Zealand economy that serves everybody, within the ecological confines of the planet. There's a lot to love about life in New Zealand, but we absolutely have poverty and deprivation - and I think we can do better than that. I've been talking about the potential for digital to transform New Zealand's economy for years.

Paul Conway, Chief Economist at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (formerly BNZ)

The Story behind the Initiative

Paul Conway, Chief Economist of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (formerly BNZ) and David Kelly (Zeald) share their vision for Kiwi businesses and communities, and how a new economic development model using digital transformation and collaboration through “clustering” has the power to transform the New Zealand economy.

The Backstory: A shared vision

The Digital Cluster Initiative comes from a true 'meeting of the minds'. When Paul Conway (then BNZ) and David Kelly (Zeald) were connected through the Digital Boost Alliance, they quickly realised the potential to create something transformative, practical, and productive for New Zealand, together.

Paul was asking: How do we lift New Zealand's long-run economic performance and build an economy that serves everybody? How can we live up to our potential? "I've always wanted to help create a high-wage, high-productivity New Zealand economy that serves everybody, within the ecological confines of the planet. There's a lot to love about life in New Zealand, but we absolutely have poverty and deprivation - and I think we can do better than that. I've been talking about the potential for digital to transform New Zealand's economy for years."

David was asking: How do we accelerate digital transformation in Aotearoa and help New Zealanders to cross the growing digital divide? How can we do better? "We're very focused at Zeald on helping people to cross the digital divide, and accelerating digital transformation in New Zealand and other economies. But with the global and local context changing so rapidly now, you can see a time coming when if people are not digitally enabled, they're going to be completely left out of the game."

The eureka moment came when they put it all together, and asked: What if we take that focus on productivity and economic growth, and combine it with digital?

Joined by Brandon Jackson (BNZ) and Jarra Borman (Zeald), the four worked together to develop a new, visionary regional economic model with digital transformation and collaboration at its heart. They created the Digital Cluster Initiative.

By taking the shared vision for a productive digital economy and inclusive society, and activating that through a strong national banking network, and adding world-class digital strategy and expertise, the result is an initiative built on purpose, intent, and capability. The Digital Cluster Initiative aims to help businesses and communities in New Zealand to collaborate, grow, and prosper, and to thrive in a digital world.

We're very focused at Zeald on helping people to cross the digital divide, and accelerating digital transformation in New Zealand and in other economies. But with the global and local context changing so rapidly now, you can see a time coming when if people are not digitally enabled, they're going to be completely left out of the game.

David Kelly co-founder and the chairman of Zeald

What does success look like?

Paul Conway, David Kelly, Brandon Jackson and Jarra Borman share what a successful Digital Cluster Initiative looks like, from their perspectives.
  • Download our Commitment Document This document is our formal Commitment to the Digital Boost Alliance, and outlines the Digital Cluster Initiative.
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The Digital Cluster Initiative Architects

David Kelly

David Kelly

David Kelly is a co-founder and the chairman of Zeald, New Zealand's most experienced website design and digital transformation agency for SME businesses.

For 20 years Zeald has specialised in ecommerce and digital development, helping more than 15,000 Kiwi small to medium-sized businesses transform digitally, and processing more than $2billion in ecommerce transactions locally.

In March 2020 David spearheaded the company's social impact initiative GEM (the Get Ecommerce Movement) to help get small businesses trading online, and to support greater digital enablement in Aotearoa.

David is committed to equipping and supporting New Zealanders to become more digitally-advanced and connected, in an increasingly digital world.

Brandon Jackson

Brandon Jackson is GM Growth and Performance at Bank of New Zealand. After being educated in Auckland and 10 years playing and coaching rugby in Japan, Brandon returned to New Zealand in 2005 and stepped into corporate and commercial banking.

Having led the business lending relationship teams for Auckland at BNZ, Brandon now leads a small specialist team that helps bankers and customers build capability and connections in key strategic growth areas for BNZ and New Zealand. His focus is on growing NZ Inc and helping sunrise industries mature faster.

Brandon is also an Independent Director of Auckland Rugby Union and spends time with advisory groups and youth mentoring.

Brandon Jackson
Jarra Borman

Jarra Borman

Jarra Borman is Head of Strategy at Zeald, with more than 25 years of experience helping businesses engage and connect with their customers.

Jarra's passion for digital media came from a decade spent in radio and music events. He went on to join Yellow and helped with their transition to digital, building a multi-award winning digital team across the North Island in the process.

In 2016 Jarra joined Zeald and was integral to establishing its Tauranga agency in 2018. His desire to see transformative change in New Zealand through digital strategy, ecommerce and solution architecture, drives his hallmark creative and visionary solutions at Zeald.

Paul Conway

Paul has recently become Chief Economist at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand after three years at BNZ where his focus was on the potential for new technologies to lift economic performance and wellbeing in Aotearoa.

Prior to that, Paul was the Director of Economics & Research at the New Zealand Productivity Commission. Much of Paul's work at the Commission was on understanding the obstacles New Zealand businesses face in successfully adopting new technology.

Paul has extensive international experience and has previously worked at the OECD on productivity, regulation, developing economies and regional development. He has also worked as a consultant with the World Bank.

Paul Conway

The Digital Cluster Initiative Team

  • Jason Reeves photo

    Jason Reeves

    Head of Export Business Development, BNZ