Can New Zealand develop a high performing innovation ecosystem that grows many more high value international businesses?
That's one of 10 key issues that The New Zealand Institute's spotlighted in its report about requirements for the country's long term success.
Director Rick Boven says the challenge is to develop strategies and policies that guide and support the question that's been put.
Naturally, this can't be carried out in isolation from 'us', and there's another nine issues in the report that sit alongside, and would need to concurrently occur to drive such a high performing innovation ecosystem.
Boven's essentially talking about how do we produce a 'suped up engine' to drive economic prosperity.
Leaving those other nine issues (but being clear none can happen in isolation from the others), the institute makes some telling observations about innovation as it stands in the kiwi context. We have a huge chasm to leap.
Innovation drives economic prosperity in advanced economies, and the most prosperous small advanced economies export high value differentiated goods and services Boven says.
We have some strong points; adequate tertiary participation, sound universities, quality scientific institutions and inventiveness. There's also a growing export sector based on technology and innovation.
But, and these are big buts, our innovation ecosystem is not performing as well as other
• Business R&D is one-third of the OECD average
• There are shortages of talent, capital, knowledge and connections for internationalizing business
• Week, but developing governance of innovation
• Small size and distance makes internationalization more difficult, but NZ provides less support than competing countries
Boven makes the point that we have many opportunities to grow high value exports, but also important obstacles.
Part of the institute's role is to create debate based on factual information, rather than fluffy talk.
He'd love to hear some good ideas. Elizabeth Connor made a comment yesterday that the use of social media is one way to debate these issues.