Wednesday, July 6, 2022

New innovation agency launched

New Crown agency Callaghan Innovation, which incorporates Industrial Research Ltd, was launched at a breakfast event in Auckland this morning.

The agency aims to help get New Zealand's most innovative ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace more quickly, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's says.

Science NZ chairman and Agresearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson said the agency offers a new way of helping NZ’s high-tech firms become more competitive in the global marketplace by better connecting them with research expertise and facilities and also linking the firms with business development grants.

“The Crown Research Institutes are committed to working with our colleagues at Callaghan Innovation in this task.

“The increasingly deep level of collaboration across CRIs, universities, polytechnics and other research institutions has been a very positive development in recent years.

“It is resulting in better connections and utilisation of the nation’s capabilities and infrastructure, and better science and technological developments.

“Callaghan Innovation commences a new way of doing business with business. It can draw upon a proud heritage at IRL and more broadly across New Zealand’s science, technology, engineering and design communities.

Before the launch, the Science Media Centre contacted key figures in NZ science and innovation to assess their expectations of the new agency and asked what was the single most important thing it could do to boost private sector innovation.

Auckaland University of Technology Engineering School head Professor John Raine said "In this small country it is vital that we build much more collaborative behaviour to better use limited resources to support product innovation and the growth of high tech export businesses.

“The single greatest thing that Callaghan Innovation could do to boost private sector innovation would be to use its own embedded engineering and science capability in partnership with that of the universities, technology institutes and polytechs, other crown research institutes and industries to catalyse a massive increase in the level of industry-demand-driven high technology R&D project activity in NZ."

CarbonScape and Aquaflow director Nick Gerritsen said "Prove that the public and private sectors can collaborate in a world beating manner.

“Ultimate success will be measured by the establishment of a robust flow of innovation (private and public) – consisting of near, medium, long-term development – and proving on a repeatable basis that NZ can work together to deliver this innovation to market and really put NZ on the map.

Technology Investment Network managing director Greg Shanahan said "In my view the greatest thing Callaghan Innovation could do is to align the NZ Science/R&D infrastructure more solidly behind the goals of NZ's technology-led exporters.

"This will require a deepening engagement and greater cultural alignment with these companies"

Association of Scientists president Professor Shaun Hendy said "I think that Callaghan Innovation will have to do two things to succeed.

“Firstly it must develop the science and technology that NZ's manufacturing sector will need in the decades to come.

“As Sir Paul Callaghan pointed out in his book, Wool to Weta, NZ has not put enough effort into the science that underpins high-value manufacturing.

“Callaghan Innovation represents a great opportunity to close the knowledge gap between NZ and the other advanced economies.

“Second, the organisation needs to develop effective new ways of bringing together researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses.

“NZ doesn't enjoy the benefits of agglomeration that Sydney or Tokyo do, so Callaghan Innovation will need to find scalable, smarter ways to make these connections. This will largely involve making better use of the information we already have about the innovation sector in NZ.

"We will be able to tell if Callaghan Innovation is on track in a year or two by whether it has been able to significantly grow the numbers of scientists and decrease the number of bureaucrats that work there."

MacDiarmid Institute director Professor Kate McGrath said "With a great chief executive and leadership team Callaghan Innovation and Callaghan Innovation (Research (Ltd)) have the capacity to ensure timely, appropriate working relations between science providers and NZ's high value manufacturing business sector providing critical solutions for today and profitable opportunities for tomorrow, creating connectivity and scale that will ensure a stronger more integrated sector.

ICE Accelerator and ICE Angels director Ken Erskine said "Rapid and effective commercialisation of local innovation onto the global stage is a key priority for our economy. I'm highly optimistic that the Callaghan Innovation will become a significant catalyst to realising NZ's true potential."

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