Govt heading in right R&D direction but has “lot of ground to make up”

"This is another positive sign the government is committed to lifting our business performance in R&D and innovation."

Credit: Dreamstime

Boosting New Zealand's business investment in R&D and innovation is a top priority and today's announcement though welcome is not entirely persuasive, says Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

As reported by Computerworld New Zealand, Science Minister Steven Joyce announced business R&D funding will rise in this year's Budget by $80 million over four years.

"This is another positive sign the government is committed to lifting our business performance in R&D and innovation," Campbell says.

"The amount of investment in R&D and innovation are fundamental vectors of our economy's future success. But at present we're going backwards, with a lot of ground to make up.”

In the two years to December 2014 Statistics New Zealand figures show business investment in R&D grew just four per cent whereas the economy overall grew 3.1 per cent in 2013 and 3.5 per cent in 2014.

“The largest fall off evident was in investment in manufacturing R&D,’ Campbell comments.

"Our business spend on R&D already lags far behind the developed world and our trading partners. OECD figures show we rank 21st behind Portugal and the Czech Republic, and well adrift of Australia.”

Campbell believes the increased commitment will help but its not the step change needed to reverse the decline and power exports up to 40 per cent of GDP by 2025.

"The targeting of research funds to qualifying businesses has worked up to a point, but other policy options need further exploration in a wholehearted effort to get a larger percentage of businesses participating in R&D and innovation activities,” he adds.

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