Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck wins entrepreneur of the year
He built the world's first private rocket launch site in a tiny town near Gisborne, now Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck has been named EY Entrepreneur of the Year.
Beck was selected from six category winners at an award ceremony in Auckland on Thursday night.
Rocket Lab has had a busy year as it prepares to make the country just the eleventh to launch a rocket into space.
Last month, it officially opened its orbital launch site on Mahia Peninsula, the first of its kind in the world, on the East Coast south of Gisborne.
* Rocket Lab's Mahia launch site prepared for takeoff
* Entrepreneur of the Year category winners revealed
* Progressive Meats founder Craig Hickson wins entrepreneur of the year
* New Zealand space industry prepared for takeoff
* Airways hopes Rocket Lab launch will be 'first of many'
* Rocket Lab signs Planet satellite company as new launch customer
The launch range, which was licensed to launch every 72 hours for the next 30 years, would mean the country would soon become the nation with the highest frequency of space launches anywhere in the world.
Nasa, Planet, Spire and Moon Express have all signed on as customers, and a report from Sapere Research Group found a domestic rocket industry would contribute between $600m and $1.55b to the economy over the next 20 years.
Judging panel chair Diane Foreman said the judges were "star-struck" by Rocket Lab, which beat the strongest field of finalists she had seen in the more than 10 years she has been involved with the awards.
Awards director Jon Hooper reiterated the overall strength of this year's finalists, and said they were all "disrupters" of traditional business models.
In a speech at the awards, Hooper said the speed of change brought by disruptive technology like artificial intelligence meant businesses could not afford to be "digitally illiterate".
"In fact, doing so could be seen as a breach of your duties of governance."
Hooper said companies would need to figure out how to stay on top, otherwise a "nimble newcomer" would grab their business.
"The best questions to ask involve challenging long-held assumptions about what your business actually is, who your customers are and where your competitors come from."
The other EY finalists this year included Fisher Funds' Carmel Fisher, Colin and Dale Armer of Armer Farms, Ranjna Patel from Nirvana Health Group, and Jos Ruffell of Garage Project.
Beck's win means he would now represent the country at the world event in Monaco next June.
The Gallagher Group received the inaugural Family Business Award of Excellence while property developer Ted Manson was recognised for Exceptional Services to Entrepreneurship.