Dr Megan Woods: Helping Kiwis turn good ideas into great businesses

Opinion 20/09/2019

By Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Labour MP.

The most valuable thing we can offer as a small country in the middle of an increasingly stormy sea, is the skills and knowledge of our people. It is our people, and their ideas that drive the value we create across industries– from farming to fashion, to space exploration.

I believe investment in research and innovation is the main route to a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy.

Under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership we are seeing a change in the way we think about what we have to offer the world.  We know that we can’t always compete on volume, but that we can compete on good ideas.

That’s why we’re boosting economy-wide investment in R&D to 2% of GDP by 2027.

Supporting good ideas through R&D will enable New Zealand to develop solutions to local and global problems, increasing our expertise here at home and creating more high value jobs to boot.

As part of our Wellbeing Budget, the Government invested an additional $132 million of funding over four years in research, science and innovation. That’s huge – and it builds on previous years’ investments, including the $1 billion R&D Tax Incentive.

Ours is the single biggest investment in innovation in New Zealand’s history.

That speaks to my commitment to back New Zealand businesses to increase their investment in new knowledge and compete in global markets.

This week we made two more announcements to supercharge R&D.

We know deep technology start-ups are risky and prone to failure, but if successful, they create sought after high value jobs and help New Zealand maintain and extend its competitive advantage. That’s why we’ve put more funding into the Technology Incubator Programme, to help commercialise the complex technology coming out of our public research organisations.

Secondly, we announced the decisions of the 2019 Endeavour funding round. Endeavour funding will see $241 million invested in leading-edge research projects that support our vision to improve the lives of all New Zealanders by addressing some of the environmental, economic and social challenges we face as a country.

By funding leading-edge science, we’re building expertise and bolstering niche industries that need support.

Research, science and innovation should benefit everyone, and the Government’s investments in the science system are intended to support that goal.

From creating new, high value jobs, to products that improve the every-day lives of New Zealanders, there are a clear set of environmental, economic and social benefits to be attained when we make investments in excellent research.

Megan Woods is Minister of Research, Science and Innovation and Labour Party MP for Wigram.