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Calling out the Callaghan Innovation Factor

Posted: 10 November 2017
Vic Crone, Chief Executive of Callaghan Innovation, reports on a great year for New Zealand innovators

Vic Crone, Chief Executive of Callaghan Innovation
Vic Crone, Chief Executive of Callaghan Innovation

It’s not exactly a newsflash to say that we can be a nation of knockers. You’ll all be familiar with our tall poppy syndrome and its deadening effect on those of us who want to shout good news from the rooftops. So, a quick word of warning, for those of you who prefer to grumble please stop reading now. 

I am proud to lead Callaghan Innovation, and not just because it is made up of some of the finest people with the finest minds in the country. I am proud because the work we do has a powerful positive impact on the economy.

At the macro level there has been a record 29% growth in business expenditure on R&D over the past two years (Statistics NZ 2014-16). Callaghan Innovation customers are investing well ahead of the market with their R&D increasing by 46% during the same period. Our grants are stimulating R&D with $3.70 invested by businesses for every grant dollar received.

One place where we see this investment paying off is in the Technology Investment Network’s annual TIN Report. Released mid-October, it shows that this year has been a record-breaker. New Zealand’s leading 200 hi-tech companies achieved a combined annual revenue of $10 billion in 2017 - and tech remained New Zealand’s third largest exporting sector. 

Blog Infographic - Business investment in R&D

Why does this matter? Because we know that New Zealand is at a pivotal moment in its history. We need to be bold and embrace the opportunities this new era of technology-led change is bringing to strengthen and diversify our economy. This goal is hardwired into our DNA here at Callaghan Innovation, and drives our mission to help our customers: innovative New Zealand businesses.

Callaghan Innovation worked with 67% of the TIN 200 over the past year. This group of companies enjoyed average revenue growth of 19% and added more than 4,000 jobs over that time. That’s nearly four times as much revenue and staff growth on average as those organisations who didn’t use our services in the past 12 months. 

Blog Infographic - 2017 TIN report

We also love it when our customers win awards and are recognised for their successes. Every category winner in the Hi-Tech Awards earlier this year was a customer of Callaghan Innovation. In the recent Innovation Awards, Supreme Winner Rocket Lab has been a customer of Callaghan Innovation since 2013, and 50% of category winners have benefited from one or more of our services in the last 12 months. 

Blog Infographic - 2017 Innovation Awards

My commitment for the coming year is to do two things. First, to help even more of our customers to embrace change and thrive. Second, to call out the knockers, celebrate success and shout about it from the rooftops.

Rocket Lab CEO, Peter Beck, has acknowledged the importance of Callaghan Innovation’s help, saying:

The funding towards the development phase of our Electron launch vehicle was critical, allowing us to invest significant capital, time and expertise into developing all our systems in-house. The innovations that resulted mean we now have a vehicle with an unprecedented low price, which is highly manufacturable.

Team NZ’s Grant Dalton is equally supportive, after the agency helped Team NZ to increase its R&D investment through a Growth Grant:

It is fantastic that Callaghan Innovation has recognised both the importance of and the potential that Team New Zealand has in the research and development of technologies that go into creating an America’s Cup-winning yacht. What we do has a flow-on effect to the New Zealand marine industry as well as to so many other New Zealand businesses where there is crossover in the technology we develop.

Seamus Rowe, Co-founder of Dotterel, the runner-up in Callaghan Innovation’s inaugural C-Prize Challenge with its noise-suppressing technology for drones, says his company now has international success in its sights after being signed up by American technology accelerator TechStars:

Without Callaghan Innovation’s C-Prize Challenge, we wouldn’t be here. It gives you a goal, in our case a problem to solve, and the money to go after it.

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