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From the minister’s office

01 Nov 2011

"New Zealand companies are leaders in niche high-tech markets such as software development, cyber security, animation, medical device manufacturing and radio manufacturing. The Government sees science and innovation as vital to building a stronger economy that will provide New Zealanders with better jobs, higher incomes and improved living standards. One of the tasks of the new Ministry of Science and Innovation is fostering innovation by bringing together industry, science and the government."The digital technologies sector has its own unique qualities. Its products are truly ‘weightless exports’. Great ideas can go from conception to commercial success in a very short time. The reality is that digital technologies companies have to look offshore at an early stage to get scale. The earlier they can plug in to the global IT community, the more quickly they will get traction."The Government has agreed to invest US$300,000 over three years in Kiwi Landing Pad Ltd: a hub in San Francisco where New Zealand digital technology businesses can physically be together and tap into each other’s networks and connections."The Landing Pad is initiated by TradeMe founder Sam Morgan and supported by leading New Zealand entrepreneurs such as Sir Stephen Tindall, Rod Drury and John Holt. Private investors such as Valar Ventures, Evander Investments, Movac and Xero Ltd are also investing money in this venture, which is already home for a number of leading New Zealand businesses such as Xero, Vis-fleet, Jade, Magritek and Sonar6. This is a perfect example of a public-private partnership where government is helping to build bridges and open doors to grow New Zealand businesses at the international stage."In August, the Government announced it is also investing $2.8m over four years to help fund and support ‘up and coming’ people with entrepreneurial flair in the ICT sector. We will be selecting up to 20 budding entrepreneurs, or teams of entrepreneurs, a year, and offering them an intensive talent development programme."This programme is drawing on international best practice and will create an environment that can supercharge entrepreneurs and their ideas through funding, incubation, mentoring and potential access to the Kiwi Learning Pad facility in San Francisco.They will be exposed to top-end mentors, here and overseas, and be tapping into networks in the innovation ecosystem. This will help them get their business ideas ready for the market and increase their chances of securing capital from investors."As well, the Government is driving a comprehensive new focus on early stage companies and entrepreneurs across all sectors. In particular, we are looking at the role and function of incubators. Support systems and avenues for funding will be significantly expanded for early stage companies that combine management acumen with innovative products that meet market demands. This will include a process for accrediting incubators as channels for MSI’s business funding programme. We are also looking at increasing the discretionary authority of our regional business?partners."Other initiatives being explored include a focus on increasing internships and developing linkages with secondary schools to further increase participation in science, technology and maths.”