Gluckman tells Auckland to get cracking

In giving a push/shove as Auckland as an innovation or knowledge city, chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman reckons the country could expect area like industrial design and digital and media research to have a high presence.

In his ‘Auckland conversation’ speech of early December (see here), Glucklman says that Wynyard quarter innovation proposal would have such a characteristic.

The election announcement that IRL is going to be remoulded into a much larger organisation, with a much larger Auckland footprint (of which the broad brushstrokes let alone the detail has still to be worked through) will be part of the innovation concentration.

Along with better linking of academia, entrepreneurs and industry working together much more closely, Gluckman acknowledges another challenge – if/when Auckland gets its act together as NZ’s only international city.

Keeping knowledge based businesses in Auckland (or NZ for that matter) is difficult, for as companies grow their markets, overseas, there will be a pull to shift executive functions and even manufacturing offshore.

“I think the only thing that can keep the companies anchored here will be an R&D function so embedded within the city that it cannot move,” he says. “We have to build a city and a country that really values knowledge and science and entrepreneurship. We need technology parks, we need an intertwining of researchers, in the public and private sector, we need a world class university sector and a vibrant knowledge based ecosystem. Without that I fear for the future. The time is now.”

A feature of the small high tech oriented countries that Gluckman uses as NZ comparators (Denmark, Israel, Singapore) is their capacity to attract multinationals to do research and development in them. It is not unrealistic to imagine they will come here he says.

Auckland has the attributes that could attract multinational activity, and its diverse populations makes it attractive for many forms of product development – in food, in pharma and in advanced electronics he gives as examples.

Attracting big food industries or some of the digital companies to set up shop in Auckland should be a significant goal for the Auckland (supercity) regional government. Overseas the experience has been that once one multinational moves in, others follow.

“Local and central government, the public and private sectors need to work together to change the perception of New Zealand, and Auckland in particular,” he says.

And though the rest of the country has a love/hate relationship with Auckland, as the country’s major city, it is pretty important that it gets its act together, better.

Auckland consumes more than it produces from an economic point of view. Innovation is probably the only way it can positively contribute – and heck, the rest of the country might even start to give it some love if it did so.


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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3 Responses to Gluckman tells Auckland to get cracking

  1. Neal says:

    It would seem the government’s decision to increase the size of IRL is symptomatic of the essential failure of Government in NZ to understand what it takes to create the kind of infrastructure that will attract global businesses here. IRL is a hole into which the government continues to dump money. It should have been killed long ago, but instead they continue to work as a money losing government business with a focus on promoting the particular interests of their scientists and not NZ industry.

    If NZ wants to play on a global stage then it can’t spread what precious financial resources we have across the entire technology spectrum. ICT, biotech and all other technology plays have serious global competition, so we need to pick a path and support development in that area long term. Then, once a foothold has been established can we expand into other areas. The challenge for the government will be to put some money into an area and stick with it. Silicon Valley took two decades to grow before it achieved critical mass. The key was developing technology in support of government initiatives. The NZ government looks for a return on their investment in a relatively short period of time. There is no patience to grow sustainable industries. Perhaps it is a legacy of our agricultural past where you know how much a cow costs and how much milk will be produced by the end of the year. Innovation is not nearly as prescriptive.

  2. Pingback: » Gluckman tells Auckland to get cracking

  3. Richard says:

    A government agency creating innovation. Riiiight…

    Scientists advising us on how to make money for the country. Riiiight…

    Auckland an ‘international city’. Riiiight…

    The government should leave innovation to the private sector, all I hear from the IRL are high-level speeches about nothing.

    Auckland is no more significant than Wellington or Tauranga on an international stage. Can you name the 300+ cities bigger than Auckland in the world? Nope? And neither can I or anyone else in the world. So why would you try and create and manufacture these invisible non-existent goods in a city where the labour is expensive, the land is expensive and it is no more than a regional office of middle managers for Australia? Innovators are all over the country, not sitting in safe university research labs.

    Innovation will come from entrepreneurs from the Cape to Gore, they will commercialise it like we always have, and we will succeed like we always have, slowly and with patience. The last thing this country needs is another government department of ‘advisers’ sucking our taxes dry and manufacturing false industries subsidies by our taxes. If it’s a good idea, business and investors will jump at the chance to invest. I don’t want a scientist or body of scientists advising me on commercialisation.

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