Memia 2020.45: Positive externalities➕// a tangled knot🏘️🪢// put to sea⛵// big sheds🏗️// injecting CRISPR🧬

Getting off this world (one day)🚀

Hi / Kia ora,

Welcome to this year’s penultimate Memia scan across emerging tech, global change and the unfolding future, as viewed from this self-isolating corner of the world, Aotearoa New Zealand.

The most clicked link in the last issue (~16% of openers) was Siouxsie Wiles’ raw takedown of the UK’s hurry to vaccinate.

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Positive externalities➕

As trailed way back in Memia 2020.12 (end of April, can you believe it…) the Aotearoa government’s COVID-19 Tracer app finally got its bluetooth upgrade thanks to iOS and Android updates.

Given all of the “break them up” loudness reverberating around the online echo chamber, I think it’s fair to reflect for a moment on a few of the *positive* externalities of having a US Adtech giant here in Aotearoa (top work Ross and Google AoNZ team👏):

A tangled knot🏘️🪢

House prices, eh.

Even the banks are calling for bold policy action!

I was batting emails back and forth on the topic this week with regular correspondent Andrew Leckie: it’s a tangled, tangled knot. On the one hand, there are many interrelated outcomes that the govt is trying to achieve…

…and on the other, there are many interrelated levers which the govt, reserve bank and businesses can try to pull (click to magnify):

(Any suggestions on what’s missing… please add into comments below.)

I sense that this is a much more complex data model than any government agency *or even bank economist* has to hand…anyone trying to take a crack?

Perhaps Aotearoa could look north to Finland, the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally:

“We decided to make the housing unconditional…To say, look, you don’t need to solve your problems before you get a home. Instead, a home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.”✔️

Put to sea⛵

Stuff reported this week that cost blowouts on 17 roads cost NZTA NZ$1.1 billion. Waka Kotahi/NZTA is quoted:

“The funding range for State Highway improvements for 2018-21 is between NZ$3b and NZ$3.85b.”

This seems like rather a lot of money, even by 2020 QE standards.

Here in Aotearoa truckers demand billion-dollar spend to fix 'dilapidated' roads while environmentalists argue that AoNZ roads will never cope with heavier trucks.

But over in Norway, shipbuilder Vard has just handed over the world’s first zero emissions, autonomous container vessel to conglomerate Yara International:

…and in Stockholm archipelago just last weekend they have been trialling a scale model of the Oceanbird wind-powered car carrier.

In Memia 2020.02 I flagged the work of Tāmaki Makaurau startup FreightFish working on autonomous hydrofoils and the future of shipping:

Also based in Auckland, ZeroJet are working on electric jet powered watercraft, which with a bit of capital could no doubt be scaled up fast. (🙏 Blair Harrison at ASX for the link).

Here’s a play: take just some of that roading budget and instead invest it into making Aotearoa a global regulatory sandbox for autonomous, carbon neutral sea freight - like is being done for aerospace. AoNZ is not short of coastline. Why not autonomous floating platforms carrying shipping containers between coastal towns with “hands free” micro ports? Take those long truck journeys off the roads…and then go export the technology and regulatory framework all around the world in 10 years’ time. How about a concept feasibility study Rob Warner?

[Weak] signals

The future keeps on signalling…

Changing this world:

  • Human-made materials now equal the weight of all life on Earth…

Getting off this world:

  • SpaceX carried their first test of the enormous “Starship” rocket intended to take humans to Mars this decade. It ended with a big bang but, wow…not bad for a first attempt.

Cheap robots:

🏗️Big sheds:

  • Electricity generator Meridian is backing a new proposed 40,000 sq.m “hyperscale” data centre in Invercargill from Datagrid, founded by Remi Galasso (Hawaiki cable) and Malcolm Dick (Callplus). Meridian has agreed to supply Datagrid’s proposed development with 100 megawatts of green electricity from the nearby 800MW Manapouri hydro scheme. (Aluminium smelter Rio Tinto conveniently exiting soon…bye bye). The project also involves laying 2900 km of subsea cable between Invercargill, Sydney and Melbourne, and another to Hawaiki Cable’s landing point at Mangawhai Heads, north of Auckland. Audacious vision, well done!👏 (It works in Iceland.)

Hack attack:

🧬Injecting CRISPR:

Mind expanding

Exercising my neurons this week:

Rollcall

VCs, VCs, everywhere:

  • Australian angel investors Matt and Aprill Allen launched Tractor Ventures with an attractive value proposition for founders:

  • And last week it was fun to catchup in Ōtautahi with newly imported VC Rob Vickery, GP of new NZ$40M Kiwi fund HillFarrance (random fact: named after his ancestral village in Somerset, England).

Hidden gems

Finally, two items that caught my eye this week:

🙏🙏🙏 Thanks for reading!

Last newsletter of 2020 next week…

Cheers / Ngā Mihi

Ben