New Zealand needs one place for everything innovative – NZ Institute

Though he’s loathed to call it a ‘one-stop-shop’, NZ Institute director Rick Boven reckons something similar is required as one measure to boost this country’s innovation rate and output.

The institute recent discussion paper ‘Plugging the Gaps – An internationalisation strategy’, suggested as one of its 14 policy directions that an “Information Clearinghouse” be established in New Zealand.

Boven says NZTE has a website that provides some of the functions he envisages such a clearinghouse could have.

However, “at the moment, if you want to find out something, it’s mostly about connections and word of mouth,” he says.

“We need to provide a venue for people to make offers, look for answers and make those connections.”

He says one example is open innovation, where seekers (or those with a challenge or problem) and solvers (someone with an answer), can be put together.

“You could be working in a lab, have a particular thing you need answered, put it up there, and low and behold, you have a solution,” he says. Such a clearinghouse would work for both the research and development side of things, as well as commercialisation.

Boven says he often meets overseas-based people who would like to help innovating New Zealand businesses; and while there are a number of different forums, “there’s no, one, dominant place for them to go.”

He provides an aligned example, where the ability to find a skill would be extremely useful.

“We’re looking for a chairman for one of our companies,” he says. “How do you go about that?”

The ability to put such a request up on a website, and for those who are interested to then be able to get in contact is a facility which would be extremely useful Boven says.

He is agnostic as to whether such a clearinghouse would or should be government or privately run but makes the point that it would need to have a service purpose and not just a commercial purpose. It might even be an NGO he says.

“What you really want is something and some way for people to very easily to be able to make connections,” he says.

For the record, and taken from the ‘Plugging the Gaps’ document, a single utility information clearinghouse should be the preferred service provider or access point for:
• Access to public good information such as standard solutions
• A directory of expertise, providers and advisors in science, engineering and commercialisation
• Problem solving forums in research, development, business development and internationalisation
• Provision of useful research findings to commercialisation providers and businesses
• Matching of entrepreneurs with business opportunities
• Matching of investors with investment opportunities
• Matching of specialist staff with employment opportunities
• Connections to New Zealand networks overseas, and
• Connections to relevant international solution and resource providers

Which sticK reckons would very much be a ‘one-stop-shop’ in the New Zealand innovation context…..but we won’t call it that!


About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
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4 Responses to New Zealand needs one place for everything innovative – NZ Institute

  1. Pingback: » New Zealand needs one place for everything innovative

  2. Bruce Hamilton says:

    I’ve found that people with technical problems often know where to go for a innovative solution, but they don’t want to pay market rates and/or are paranoid about confidentiality. It’s one of the reasons why NZ industry-focused research institutes failed twenty years ago, even though the obvious customers were, at most, only paying 50% of the market rate.

    Responders to IRL’s “What’s your problem, NZ?” were all keen on the free research, but only a few appear to have signed up to subsequent IRL/govt programmes where NZ govt is paying 50% of the innovation cost.

    Solicitation programmes really are, like petrol, distress purchases – people are only interested in service stations when the vehicle fuel gauge is near empty. Most NZ company management come from education systems where vision is subsumed to shareholder returns. They will only invest in innovation as a last resort, when the problem is about to compromise the bottom line. Strategic R&D has greatly diminished in existing companies over the last two decades, with a few major exceptions.

    Current NZ technical business strategy is to outsource non-core functions, and purchase expertise on an “as-needed’ basis. The problem is that major industrial innovation and research providers in NZ ( CRIs, Unis etc., ) no longer have researchers familiar with the nuances of many technological products/processes, so it’s easier to purchase the necessary skills from an off-shore specialist provider who understands the issues, will provide an efficient solution, and also maintain confidentiality.

    IIRC, not many of NZ’s new valve-added industries ( as opposed than research companies like LanzaTech ) grew from innovation funding during last two decades – supercritical processing is one, high value *ceutical dairy products is another.

    A “one-stop innovation shop ” isn’t viable without a regular stream of customers prepared to pay market rates for skills. Those skills have to be superior valve to going off-shore, which is becoming harder with the global growth of highly-subsidised Indian and Chinese R&D providers, just look at the current rush to “off-shoring” of innovation by many US businesses, such as big pharma.

    Mine’s a pessimistic view, not because we don’t have the research skills – we do. the current crop of young researchers in CRIs and Unis are as good as, and often better than, their predecessors, but the failure has been, and still is, within the management of prospective customers.

  3. Pingback: New Zealand needs one place for everything innovative – NZ … | Today Headlines

  4. Johan Rossouw says:

    Congratulations on starting off a very usefull idea. The chalenge, as I see it would be to make it both practically useful and sustainable. This would require a binding protocol which covers the intrinsic requirements like trust and sharing sucsess.

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