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Wgtn identity, Mike 'MOD' O'Donnell, to head new govt unit

Wellington identity, Mike 'MOD' O'Donnell, to head new govt business

By Pattrick Smellie

July 4 (BusinessDesk) - Departing TradeMe chief operating officer and Wellington man about town, Mike 'Mod' O'Donnell is to head a start-up joint venture owned jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the government's trade promotion body, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, to market public sector intellectual property to other governments.

O'Donnell will be executive director of the new venture, which a statement today says will "take New Zealand government know-how, systems and intellectual property (IP) to international markets."

Budget papers released yesterday show the Treasury opposed the scheme, which has a $5.3 million budget allocated over the next four years, according to a table in a March 24 email detailing the Treasury's reaction to NZTE's strategy refreshment plan. That plan included development a new "government to government commercialisation office".

The Treasury said at that stage the proposal was still being developed and the need for additional NZTE funding had not been established.

In a statement announcing O'Donnell's appointment, NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp said: "New Zealand government agencies are well respected internationally, and there’s an opportunity to grow export revenue by taking their skills, systems and know-how to market on a commercial basis. This is not in competition with the private sector, rather complementing and partnering with business to maximise value from government IP."

“This will be a commercial operation, so it needs a leader with an entrepreneurial background, strong private sector experience and an extensive network. We think Mike is a great fit. We’re delighted to have him on board.”

As well as working at Trade Me, O’Donnell is a professional director and business columnist and has carved out a reputation for loud shirts, motorcycling anecdotes and brand and reputation management.

He starts in his new role in early September and will report to a joint NZTE/MFAT management board, chaired by Peter Chrisp.


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