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Innovation Challenge – New Zealand in 2040

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This article was published on 28 January 2019

More than 100 of New Zealand’s leading thinkers, businesspeople and young people voiced their ambition and fears for our country’s future over the next two decades.

This diverse group of academics, business leaders, young people, artists and sportspeople were undeniably positive about our unique potential. They wanted a more deliberate, ambitious and inclusive future. However, they have warned that Aotearoa risks falling far behind our global peers if we don’t start acting on our good intentions.

The group considered eight global megatrends already disrupting our lives. Climate change was seen as the trend that will most critically affect New Zealand, followed closely by the future of work, and job disruption with automation. Strong views were also expressed on the need for radical change in education.

Other major issues identified included the future of business and disruption to our traditional commodities industries, a changing world order, changing infrastructure, the rise of the empowered consumer demanding sustainable social change, an aging workforce, and the healthcare revolution.

While there was a clear call for urgent action, participants also expressed a strong desire for innovation to reflect our own culture and values, including:

  • embracing and capitalising on our Māori heritage
  • using technology to create equality, not inequality
  • valuing the management of natural resources above primary industries; and
  • backing a single, transparent and data-driven body to oversee innovation policy.

As New Zealand’s innovation agency, we are incorporating the Innovation Challenge findings our ongoing strategies, with some key actions underway:

  • launching a national platform soon to connect and showcase Aotearoa’s innovation ecosystem, to be known as Scale-Up NZ 
  • new initiatives that grow successful social and environmental enterprises faster
  • connecting more businesses to leading-edge R&D
  • supporting Maori innovation principles in our programmes.

Read the report summary 

PDF icon ​Innovation Challenge – New Zealand in 2040