Accelerate - September 2013

Driving economic growth through innovation

New Zealand is a country of good ideas. But for a complex web of reasons, we’re lagging behind our peers in converting those ideas into products and services to power our economy. Enter Callaghan Innovation.

New Zealand is a country of good ideas. But for a complex web of reasons, we’re lagging behind our peers in converting those ideas into products and services to power our economy. Enter Callaghan Innovation.

Our job is to increase business innovation and speed up the commercialisation of new products and services, creating jobs for New Zealanders.

New Zealand has been lagging behind other advanced economies in economic performance and per-capita income and the Government’s Business Growth Agenda identified Innovation as one of the six key ‘ingredients’ businesses need to grow.

We have many examples of innovative businesses that have successfully grown and entered global markets or increased their productivity by adopting new technology. The amount businesses spend on R&D in New Zealand has been growing as a percentage of GDP, with businesses benefiting from world-class science expertise and a relatively low cost of doing research and development.

But indicators show New Zealand’s overall investment in R&D is still well below the OECD average, and we need to improve our conversion of ideas and investment in R&D into commercial success. We need more technology-rich, innovative, businesses able to be globally successful, with products and services that use leading-edge knowledge and technology to attract high margins.

Barriers traditionally holding back New Zealand firms have included the fragmentation of research and technology expertise and services across the country, the perceived financial risks of investing in R&D, and access to skilled people, capital and markets.

Recognising these barriers, our focus will be on areas over and above the work being done by existing organisations.

We’ll do this by:

  • Providing research and technical services supporting near-to-market innovation by firms
  • Awarding and administering grants to encourage business investment in R&D
  • Helping firms develop skills and expertise to successfully take ideas to market
  • Helping firms access the services and skills they need across New Zealand research organisations
  • Setting up and support National Technology Networks to coordinate innovation initiatives across important technology areas
  • Fostering a culture of innovation and building excitement about business growth potential among current and future business leaders.

To do all of this successfully, Callaghan Innovation must be a well-informed ‘honest-broker’ in the eyes of both firms and research, science and technology providers. This means we won’t compete with research and technology services already being provided that meet the needs of businesses, or vie against others in the research system for contestable funding.

We will work closely with the wider innovation system and NZTE to provide a ‘no-wrong-door’ approach for businesses seeking support to innovate and improve international competitiveness.

Rather than each part of the innovation system working alone, we will be working as part of a stronger and better focussed system for the benefit of New Zealand businesses, our economy and our communities.

As a result, our vision is that firms will be actively engaged in R&D, working with the most appropriate research and technical services providers, they’ll have access to world-class services and expertise, we’ll see a lift in exports from the high value manufacturing and services sector and higher GDP per New Zealander.

Ultimately, Callaghan Innovation’s success will be the success of high value manufacturing and services businesses in New Zealand, and the flow-on benefits for all.

Dr Mary Quin, CEO

Updated: 7 September 2015