Accelerate - March 2014

The road ahead

Callaghan Innovation has just celebrated its first anniversary. Our first year has been a time of planning and setting up new management and team structures, engaging with businesses and commercialisation partners, as well as making sure that we get on with business as usual.

Business as usual meant that our Research and Technical Services team completed 800 projects for over 230 firms and that more than 750 grants were awarded to more than 500 companies, totalling a $200m injection into New Zealand high-tech firms during this time. I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of these firms and it is particularly encouraging to see quite a number of emerging high-growth companies benefiting from grants support.

In January this year we also announced the first recipients of the new Research and Development Growth Grants. Awarded to 31 high-tech New Zealand firms, these grants are aimed at encouraging R&D investment in businesses that show a commitment to R&D. It’s been exciting to note that there has been a growing interest from business in the new growth grants, as well as in the student grants, which have been considerably oversubscribed.

Looking ahead, we will continue to focus our efforts on releasing the potential of the high-value manufacturing and services business sector for economic growth and widening our global competitiveness.

In the latest Annual Global CEO Survey from PwC, Kiwi CEOs said that product and service innovation was their major area of focus for potential business growth and the majority (91%) of them believed that technology will be the biggest transforming trend for their businesses. I couldn’t agree more.

If Kiwi firms are to be successful and compete in the global market, we need to step up our investment in high-tech R&D and get to the market faster.

This is why our funding and business incubator programmes are geared progressively towards supporting businesses in the HVMS sector.

From July 2014, we will roll out a new type of incubator support programme to encourage more innovative, complex, technology-based start-ups to get off the ground. These technology-focused incubators will be able to access new repayable grants on behalf of the start-up companies they incubate.

You can read more about incubators here.

One of our other focus areas this year will be to connect and collaborate across the innovation systems and help businesses, government and industries to work more closely together.

To accomplish this, we are appointing national technology networks managers who will have an in-depth understanding of all research and the developments in their areas of expertise. The first four networks are: information and communications technology (ICT); food technology; robotics, automation and sensing technologies; and advanced materials technologies.

As an example of how these networks will work, Jonathan Miller (our ICT manager) is working in conjunction with NZTE and nine telematics companies to collaboratively define and deliver R&D and marketing initiatives that will solve problems shared by all the companies.

We are looking forward to an exciting year helping New Zealand businesses to innovate and commercialise better, faster and smarter.

Dr Mary Quin, CEO

Updated: 7 September 2015