As the shampoo commercial says, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
So it seems is the National Network of Commercialisation Centres – a Ministry of Science and Innovation initiative to leverage this, sometimes thin, expertise in New Zealand.
When the scheme kicked off in August last year, the hope was something, maybe virtual, maybe real bricks and mortar, would’ve been in place by May of this year.
But that’s not going to be met, as regional incubators and university and CRI commercialisation centre managers and the MSI flesh out exactly what and how the 2-4 NNCCs should operate. The project’s been allocated $11 million over four years, so naturally there’s quite a ‘follow the money’ incentive for participants to do just that.
The overall goal is for the NNCCs to take over MSI’s investment and management of its pre-seed funds (presently $5.3m a year), picking projects with promise and maintaining robust investment management processes.
The individual commercialisation offices based in universities and Crown Research Institutes will remain, continuing their current roles, the NNCCs are to ‘collaborate with purpose’.
The goal is to better commercialise publicly funded research, and link with domestic and international innovation specialists, and the overseas kiwis movement (KEA).
Another intended function is to develop a national database or repository of commercialisation opportunities, projects and IP – such that a wealthy overseas person could have a single point of contact to check things out.
Discussions have been ongoing since the Requests for Proposals were received in late January.
As you can imagine, creating a flesh and blood NNCC (even if it is virtual) is a tad trickier than flying a kite on the idea.
But MSI/senior management has always maintained that the project will be a work in progress, and that rather than being a contestable process, it will bring together the best ideas and people and bring something unique to life.
There’s a fair degree of trust building going on between what are often parochial regional players by all accounts, but senior managers are confident that the NNCCs will come into being.
In New Zealand’s rapidly developing innovation ecosystem, while sooner would be good, excellent would be better. We’ll have to see if the wait is worth it.