​Is National’s R&D plan missing the ‘D’?

"It looks like National’s R&D system is actually R&D without the D."

The National Government’s research and development (R&D) funding system needs a massive overhaul in light of new information from Deloitte that some R&D Growth Grants don’t actually cover development spending.

That’s the view of Green Party spokesperson Gareth Hughes, in reaction to New Zealand Herald findings that Callaghan Innovation grants have been queried in a secret report.

A Deloitte report into the Government’s Callaghan Innovation R&D funding organisation’s Growth Grants found that funding agreements were “ambiguous and to a certain extent contradict[ed] the purpose of the grant" and that the “terms of the funding agreement specially prohibit a recipient claiming any development expenditure and only allow for research expenditure to be claimed”.

“It looks like National’s R&D system is actually R&D without the D,” Hughes says.

“Steven Joyce often says he’s focused on the commercialisation of New Zealand research successes, but it’s becoming clear that his own policies restrict investment in the product development that would lead to commercial success.

“Research and development investment that specifically doesn’t cover development work obviously needs fixing.”

Hughes believes the fact that the Government tried to cover up its R&D-without-the-D failure, by withholding the criticisms in the Deloitte report, suggests that Steven Joyce is “embarrassed that his policies aren’t working.”

“New Zealand businesses spend around half the OECD average on R&D, and the Government’s R&D policy shambles isn’t helping fix that,” Hughes adds.

In response, Hughes claims that the Green Party would “overhaul the R&D funding system to make it work better for innovative Kiwi businesses”, including re-introducing R&D tax credits.

“We certainly wouldn’t stop R&D investment being spent on development, like Callaghan has done,” Hughes adds.

“Innovation is one of the best ways to add value to our exports, create jobs and raise wages, and better protect our natural environment - that’s why it’s so important that the Government gets R&D funding right.”

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