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Kiwi companies need to spend money to make money

28 Sep 2011

Only investment in research & development can wake the ‘sleeping giant’ of the New Zealand economy, according to the deputy CEO of Crown research institute, Industrial Research Limited (IRL).

Speaking at yesterday’s New Zealand Technology Trade & Investment Forum, part of NZICT’s Rutherford Innovation Showcase, IRL’s Drew Stein told delegates that of New Zealand’s three big industries – agriculture, tourism and high-value manufacturing – only the third has the potential to make the ‘step-change’ necessary to turn our slip down the OECD rankings around.

As New Zealand is too small to compete in that market on volume, our businesses must produce ‘disruptive technology’ to achieve growth, Stein says.

"Successful technical product innovation is the key to marketplace leadership,” Stein says.

"There has been a quantum leap in the funds available for research and development, and a significant increase in the number of funding schemes in place."

With the government doing its part, now is the time for kiwi businesses to invest, Stein says.

"Companies are going to have to get their chequebooks out.”

Stein says businesses have been reluctant to invest in R & D in the past because returns may not come for some time, if at all. 

"We need to accept that failures pave the pathway to success,” Stein says.

"If we can accept this, the manufacturing industry has the potential to be New Zealand’s saviour.”

Image: Drew Stein, right, with representatives of six of New Zealand's 'hot' emerging companies.