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Now that Steven Joyce has fixed (or not) the Novopay teachers’ pay debacle, perhaps he’d like to turn his attention back to Callaghan Innovation.

Remember that minister – the commercialisation entity (however loosely you want to define it) created as something new (but based on the bones of the old IRL) where its establishment chair Sue Suckling reported only to you.

The CI establishment also by-passed the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment too you might recall, even though that was the relatively recently formed super-ministry charged with most of the science investment in New Zealand.

The former IRL had a well thought out plan to morph into a three-major-city Advanced Technology Institute model, which, while I’m sure would’ve had teething troubles had the virtue of working on the basis that industry would come to it with actual problems to solve. I bet now you wish you’d let them get on with this.

Just to refresh your memory too Steven, CI kicked off in February this year and was supposed to come up with a business case by the end of June. Which in itself is the cart before the horse in the normal scheme of things (usually businesses have a business plan first) – and something I’m sure you would have never have contemplated in the private sector.

But I guess things are a bit different when it’s taxpayer money and the buck never really stops anywhere.

However, you might like to check out what’s happening at CI.

Rumour has it that there’s an ongoing unresolved debate on whether CI’s focus should be on helping small companies grow through developing their good ideas, or whether helping larger companies expand further by backing research, development and commercialisation of their efforts should be where efforts are directed.

Personally, I can’t see that it is an either/or argument ….. a good idea, no matter where it comes from, that can be scaled quickly is the main objective from our country’s point of view.

That’s how we create wealth.

Because the thing is, while CI fiddles nothing much else happens, just a whole lot of wheelspinning.

I realise too that the 0800 Innovation telephone number was meant to address the huge number of companies and entrepreneurs supposedly frustrated at not being able to talk to the right people at the right time to take their ideas through to a more marketable prototype or product.

But, the reality is, anyone with even half a brain could get hold of the technical smarts required – so that premise, among many, was totally faulty.

All of which is a pity. Firstly, for wrecking something that wasn’t broke, and secondly for not yet replacing it with something, anything.

This is at a time when we, as in NZ Inc, really need to crank up the extent of our innovation, fill its funnel with good ideas and be prepared to fail fast with no-goers and back ones shown to be promising.

So Mr Joyce – if you could just get CI to come up with a business plan, we can then get on with getting on.

It doesn’t need to be complicated; a one-pager is fine, in fact ideal.

All it has to state is what CI is going to do, how it is going to do it, and how we’ll measure the success of its commercialisation efforts.

Quite simple really.

P.S. As I write this, the rumour is that CI isn’t going to present a business plan after all, but instead a statement of intent by the end of June. As we all know, such documents are hardly worth the paper they’re written on.

In the scheme of things, the actual cost and the opportunity cost to our country of such waffle and non-action is a much bigger scandal than Novopay.

Where’s Callaghan Innovation’s business plan……because while we wait nothing happens?

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