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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Yeah Science!

I blogged back in April on the success of Taita based firm Aviat Networks in increasing their spend on research and development and hiring more staff as a result. This is one of the many success stories I'm seeing in Rimutaka.

Research and development is part of the wider picture for science in New Zealand. The government is committed to investing on science. Since 2007/08, spending on science - including funding for the Crown Research Institutes (CRIs), contestable mechanisms through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Performance Based Research Funds (PBRF) and the previously mentioned business-led mechanisms to support research and development. Then there's the Primary Growth Partnership funds, which are growing our investment in primary industry specific research.

Traditionally this is not something New Zealand has done well in, compared to other "small advanced" economies. The Government has committed to increasing its expenditure on science to 0.8% of New Zealand's GDP (from the current 0.56%) as fiscal conditions allow. Spending by business on R&D is also low, and Government is helping to leverage that higher through more focused use of Government investments and focusing on improved knowledge exchange through initiatives such as Callaghan Innovation and new forms of company incubators. It is critical for New Zealand's future that we continue on this path.