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Polytechnics greater role in local innovation

20 May 2002 Media Statement

Budget 2002

Regional polytechnics to play greater role in local innovation

Polytechnics around the country will be able to take a more active role in regional development thanks to new funding to be announced in Budget 2002, Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton and Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

“Strong and enduring partnerships are being forged within regions and between regions and the Government as a result of the Government’s Regional Partnership Programme. All of the regions within New Zealand have now developed strategies that support the growth of healthy, vibrant regions,” Jim Anderton said.

“Polytechnics are fast becoming a crucial player in regional development. A shortage of skills means that the critical link between tertiary institutions and industry is crucial to regional development and industry growth,” Jim Anderton said.

To ensure that regions have stronger polytechnic support the government is launching a specific Polytechnic Regional Economic Development Fund. This contestable funding ($1 million in 2002-03, and $2 million per year for the following two years) has been set aside to encourage polytechnics to actively contribute to regional development.

Steve Maharey said the Polytechnic Regional Economic Development Fund will be co-ordinated with Industry New Zealand’s Regional Partnership Programme, but will be led by the Tertiary Education Commission.

“The fund will ensure that regional polytechnics can make the best possible contribution to their regions, in the context of the regional strategies already developed. The Fund matches the goals of the Tertiary Education Strategy launched last week.

“It is also significant that the funding for this programme is coming from outside of the education allocation. This signals the clear determination of the Labour-Alliance Government to work across portfolios to utilise our tertiary education system to drive economic and social development,” Steve Maharey said.


The Fund begins from 1 January 2003, with $2 million available in 2003 and 2004 and $1million in 2005 to encourage polytechnics to actively contribute to regional development.

Polytechnics will be able to apply to this contestable fund for up to a maximum grant of $300,000.

What is the Fund for?

Polytechnics have a key role in facilitating and supporting regional economic growth through actively engaging with businesses and communities to build relationships, to address skills shortages and to improve enterprise management capability.

This fund, which will be funded from Vote Industry and Regional Development, will enable and encourage polytechnics to collaborate with local industry, iwi, local government and other stakeholders to develop initiatives to support regional economic development. The funding will also enable polytechnics to build their capability to be responsive to regional training needs and to identify local economic development opportunities.

It matches the goals of the Tertiary Education Strategy released last week and also supports the Government’s Growing an Innovative New Zealand Strategy.

The Polytechnic Regional Economic Development Fund will be co-ordinated with Industry New Zealand’s Regional Partnership Programme, but will be led by the Tertiary Education Commission from 1 July 2002.

What is the process for applying for the Fund?

The process and specific criteria for application to the fund will be further developed over the next few months and communicated to polytechnics.

Applications to the fund may include:

- participating with other stakeholders in the preparation and implementation of regional development strategies;

- capability and capacity building at the regional level in developing and implementing the strategies;

- implementing regional development skills initiatives;

- building linkages with local businesses;

- collaborating with industry and ITOs where they exist, to undertake industry training needs analysis

To qualify for funding, proposals will need:

- to demonstrate how the polytechnic can enhance and develop the skill levels that underpin business competitiveness, leadership, networks and support capability of the regional economy;

- to be developed in consultation with local industry and/or local development organisations, not simply by a polytechnic on its own initiative; and

- to demonstrate consistency with the local regional development strategy and other capability development initiatives.

What will happen to the Fund beyond 2004/05?

Funding is available for 2002/03-2004/05. The Ministry of Economic Development will report to Ministers by the end of 2004, in conjunction with the Tertiary Education Commission and Industry New Zealand. This report will assess the Fund’s effectiveness in contributing to regional development and whether, and in what form, the Fund should continue for 2005/06 and beyond.

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