Innovation is seen as the key to assist New Zealand industries in the transition to an economy high in productivity but low in emissions. The challenge is for businesses to be more innovative and New Zealanders to adapt to changing job markets.
The R&D legislation born out of last year’s budget has passed and it’s up to Kiwi businesses to take up opportunities there. The Budget allocates $157m to support the “Commercialisation of Innovation” package of initiatives to invest in research and science. An “Innovative Partnerships Programme” seeks to attract globally leading firms and innovators. “Business Connect” establishes a cross-agency digital platform of business-focused services.
New start-up businesses have been spotlighted as likely to run with some of these initiatives, the Minister for Research, Science and Innovation calling them “the ultimate champions of innovation that often introduce more radical, disruptive innovations than more established firms”.
But how does a start-up expand? The Budget establishes a $300m fund to support venture capital investments taking “mid-size” start-up businesses to the next level. This is designed to stimulate growth and help businesses remain onshore, reducing pressure on companies to sell prematurely to overseas buyers.
The initiatives also fund vocational education and training. These include reforms to boost apprenticeships and trade training, increased subsidies to Tertiary Education Organisations, wage subsidies, and funding for an “Industry 4.0” demonstration network to help businesses embrace smart technologies and data driven solutions.