This article was published on 21 July 2021
CleanTech is critical for a zero-carbon, climate-resilient future. New technology will play a crucial role in solving climate change and other environmental problems, while creating a high-value export industry and new employment opportunities.
New Mission to boost climate innovation
The New Zealand CleanTech Mission is led by Callaghan Innovation, in partnership with Auckland Unlimited, New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge, Auckland UniServices, Ara Ake, and KiwiNet. It is supported by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.
The mission will deliver, partner with and advocate for initiatives to bolster NZ’s CleanTech ecosystem with commitments including:
- Developing a five-year NZ CleanTech roadmap
- Securing official resources dedicated to lifting NZ CleanTech
- Developing stronger connections between NZ CleanTech innovators and international investors, multinational corporations
- Prioritising sectors that enable NZ to focus on its high-potential niche areas, with well-timed market opportunities (such as the agriculture and energy sectors)
- Encourage greater collaboration within the NZ CleanTech ecosystem, including cross-government, focus on supporting ‘whole industries’ rather than one-on-one business support, and develop a common ‘NZ CleanTech language’
Report: CleanTech opportunities and challenges
Callaghan Innovation has released an independent report, New Zealand Climate Tech For The World.
This report completed by international consultants, The Cleantech Group, was commissioned by Callaghan Innovation, to benchmark NZ’s current environmental innovation ecosystem, across CleanTech and specifically ClimateTech, against other comparably sized small, advanced economies (SAEs).
An impressive list of CleanTech global success stories have already started in New Zealand, including the likes of multi-billion dollar business Allbirds with its wool sneakers and LanzaTech’s technology which converts waste gas into aviation fuel.
CleanTech presents New Zealand with a significant economic opportunity. Globally, early-stage venture funding for CleanTech increased to $USD16.1bn in 2019, and is growing five times faster than the average investment in other sectors, according to a recent PwC report.
New Zealand has set a target to reach net-zero emissions of long-lived gases by 2050, and to reduce biogenic methane emissions by between 24% to 47% by 2050. Currently, New Zealand sits at 22 in the CleanTech Group Innovation Index (CGII) but an urgent, concerted effort could boost NZ into the top 10 by 2022.
The New Zealand Climate Tech For The World report identified several challenges for NZ’s CleanTech ecosystem:
- Lack of investment for Kiwi CleanTech innovators: Kiwi CleanTech innovators are raising 95% less private investment than comparable SAEs.
- Disconnect between investors and international markets: Kiwi CleanTech innovators are isolated, specifically from global customers and multinational corporations and investors, meaning they miss out on opportunities to collaborate, find and secure investment, or to export their products and services.
- NZ CleanTech ecosystem needs collective growth: Successful government-backed New Zealand innovators have mostly received support on a one-by-one basis. Comparable SAEs which experience greater growth in CleanTech have an intentional approach to lift an entire industry into export markets.
The way forward
The NZ CleanTech Mission will focus on a number of key recommendations from the report, with overarching aims to coordinate innovators to create step-change efficiency, cost gains, or progress on decarbonisation for potential customers.
See the NZ CleanTech Mission Partnership Statement above for more specific focus areas.
These actions must incentivise long-term engagement between global demand owners for new clean technologies and NZ’s innovation ecosystem.
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