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Positive Result From NZ Innovation Survey

New Zealand’s level of innovative business activity is above the European average and business R&D expenditure may be higher than previously thought, a new statistical survey suggests.

More than 2700 businesses responded to the survey, by Statistics NZ in association with the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Economic Development.

62% of businesses surveyed claimed to be product innovators, compared to 44% in the EU-15 manufacturing sector (1996). 49% reported that they had introduced new or improved production processes in the last 3 years, compared to the EU-15 manufacturing sector average of 39%. Innovation expenditure is thus likely to be higher than average.

The survey indicates that 28% of businesses engage in R&D. This proportion is far higher than reported in earlier surveys of business R&D in New Zealand, suggesting business R&D expenditure may also be significantly higher than reported in earlier surveys.

“These are positive preliminary results, but they are only indicative,” Minister of Research, Science and Technology Pete Hodgson said. “If this data is confirmed by further analysis it is good news for the future of the New Zealand economy.”

The innovation survey was an introductory version of the standard global innovation questionnaire, inserted as part of a survey of business practice and outcomes, so the questions on innovation and R&D were simplified. A more detailed report will be published in March.

Innovation activities include R&D carried out inside and outside the firm, and also include the purchase of machinery and equipment, intellectual property, industrial design, staff training and marketing, where these activities are undertaken in order to introduce new or improved products, processes or services.

The Ministry of Research Science and Technology has a program in place to monitor innovation on a regular basis from now on.

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