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Govt. investment generates big economic returns

Media Statement
13 June 2005

Government investment generates big economic returns

New Zealand’s leading electronics innovator, Navman, has received nearly NZ$1 million in government investment to develop a new high performance recreational marine device unlike anything else available on world markets.

The new marine product, based on Navman’s core capability of world-class navigation technology, remains confidential, with the new two-year research and development project just beginning. It is the largest R&D project Navman has ever undertaken, and has a budget in excess of $2 million.

While remaining guarded about the specifics of Navman’s latest research, Paul Adams, Navman’s manager of intellectual property and strategic funding, says the resulting product will provide boaties around the world with more economic and effective navigation and functionality, in an environmentally friendly manner.

Navman is already scouting for five new highly skilled engineers to work on the project, with the team expected to expand to about 15 during the two-year research period. In addition to creating employment opportunities, the project will bring new skill sets to New Zealand as Adams said this research work requires a whole new level of internationally recognised expertise to develop such ground breaking marine technologies.

Technology New Zealand is investing $998,000 through its Technology for Business Growth (TBG) initiative. Business Manager, Hamish Campbell, says Navman has already demonstrated its ability to deliver significant economic returns on previous TBG investments. For example, the Foundation made a similar level of investment in Navman's 2000 research project that resulted in a car navigation device that is now successfully used throughout the world. Over a three-year period, the original six engineer research team expanded to more than 100.

Navman’s commitment to New Zealand and its successful track record in delivering commercially successful, technically superior products for a global market strengthens the investment case, says Mr Campbell. “This will deliver significant benefits and opportunities to New Zealanders.”

Navman is a key element in Brunswick Corporation’s strategy to improve the quality, appeal and convenience of boating. U.S.-based Brunswick is Navman’s parent corporation, and the world’s largest boat manufacturer, producing approximately 60,000 boats in the over-15 foot category each year. Mr Adams says with this relationship, Navman has direct access into major new market opportunities.

Since initially investing in Navman in 2003, Brunswick has continued to support Navman’s growth and has expanded Navman’s New Zealand operations as well as its worldwide market reach. Most of Navman’s products are manufactured in NZ and all intellectual property developed from this project will be 100% owned by Navman and will remain in New Zealand for the purposes of use or licensing of the technology, says Mr Adams.

“This is a very significant project. We wouldn’t commit to a project of this size and magnitude and undertake the economic and technical risk without the support of Technology New Zealand,” he says.

Navman invests approximately nine percent of its annual revenue in R&D each year. Navman recently opened a new R&D facility in Northcote, Auckland, giving the company an additional 50,000 sq.ft of space and enabling its entire Auckland based research staff to work from one site.

Foundation for Research Science and Technology
http://www.frst.govt.nz

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