Friday, June 09, 2006

A sad loss for Hamilton and New Zealand

When SSA Global announced in march last year that they were going to open an RFID center of excellence in Hamilton, it appeared that New Zealand had actually secured a real path towards becoming a high technology value partner in a worldwide core growth area.  For an economy that desperately needs to find more exports, and improve its labour productivity, RFID research and production could provide a huge boost.  Along with promising entrepreneurial startups like Sandtracker already providing some capability in this area a partnership into the ERP world would have provided a perfect lever into the marketplace for the full scope of this new realm.

Furthermore given that the agricultural industry still looks like the most likely to implement supply chain wide implementation of tags in a value-added relationship for all parties (despite Walmarts strong arming their suppliers into slap and ship tagging), New Zealand looked like a true contender with the appropriate partnerships and funding in place.

Unfortunatly SSA Global has recently announced that it is pulling out of the venture so these hopes may go unrealized.  I hope that Industry New Zealand, Hamilton City Council, WEL Energy Trust, Trust Waikato and B2H are able to find another partner of SSA's calibre to keep this proposal on some kind of track, as the potential rewards for New Zealand could be huge, and would represent more than just rhetoric in the progression of our economy towards a true technology based economy with the benefits of grounding in manufacturing as well as information exporting.

Personally this probably has more to do with SSA's acquisition of Baan Company and Baan products than the economic climate in New Zealand or the cited reasons of RFID cost / growth curves - but either way Hamilton and New Zealand are the losers.
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