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Human Interface Technology Lab Speech - Anderton

Hon. Jim Anderton

31 May 2002 Speech Notes

HIT Lab (Human Interface Technology) Canterbury University

Welcome everyone, both those who are here physically and the ones who turned up virtually. (Tom Furness and Mark Billinghurst will be “attending” via a video conference).

Congratulations to you, Mark, on your appointment as director of HIT Lab New Zealand.

I’d also like to congratulate everyone who has moved the HIT Lab New Zealand project far enough along to make this afternoon’s announcement.

There’s the Canterbury Development Corporation who are promoting the HIT Lab to New Zealand companies.

The CDC have also recruited key staff and are currently underwriting the costs of establishing the HIT Lab here in Christchurch.

In addition, they have seconded a staff member to the HIT lab to be a project manager and see it through its establishment phase.

The CDC spotted the potential for the HIT Lab to come to Christchurch during a business mission to Christchurch’s sister city Seattle in October 2000.

Congratulations also to the University of Canterbury, who are providing the physical premises and the initial faculty staff.

They have also structured the HIT Lab so it is a Type 3 Research Centre. This means it will be an independent, inter-disciplinary faculty able to offer its own degree courses.

Both the CDC and the University of Canterbury will also be supporting the project financially on an ongoing basis.

The University of Washington is to be congratulated as well. They are one of the leading research universities in the US and the home of the original HIT Lab.

I want to thank them for gifting HIT Lab New Zealand with intellectual property of the sister HIT Lab in Seattle.

They have also gifted equipment for the lab and will offer technology transfers in the future.

On the government’s side, this project represents one of the most exciting regional initiatives we’ve seen.

Innovative partnerships between the government and the regions are at the core of our current economic policy.

The HIT Lab New Zealand project is an ideal example of the kind of creativity we need to foster if we are going to come to the forefront of global economics.

It is a milestone in terms of the development of high-technology capability among New Zealand businesses.

We’ve had major input from Industry New Zealand’s Major Investment Service.

They have supported the initiative of all three HIT Lab New Zealand partners, helping us to establish a HIT Lab here in Christchurch.

We are directing government resources into areas of the economy where New Zealand businesses already excel.

We are focusing on three key sectors: biotechnology, the creative industries and Information and Communications Technology.

Innovation is at the heart of these three sectors. Innovative partnerships are essential if we are going see these industries realise their full potential.

Fortunately, one of New Zealand’s most abundant natural resources is the overwhelming inventiveness and creativity of our people.

Mark Billinghurst is a great example of the kind of people who are turning New Zealand back into a high-skill, high-value economy.

We have to stop underestimating this wealth of talent, energy, creativity and inventiveness.

We have to learn to harness it.

The HIT Lab is doing both, with its close ties to both ICT and the creative industries.

The HIT Lab will help us strengthen our global connections.

This is crucial if we are going to keep up with technological advances, sell our products internationally and attract foreign investment and skills.

This year’s budget has boosted our ability to attract positive, constructive and long-term foreign direct investment which meets New Zealand’s national interest criteria.

We won’t be offering large financial inducements.

Instead, we’ll be focusing on our inexhaustible resources of talent, skills, innovativeness and “can-do” attitude.

We’ll also be pointing out the cost effectiveness of investing in New Zealand and our world-class industrial base.

Which brings me to the point of this gathering.

Industry New Zealand has facilitated more than $330,000 worth of government funding for HIT Lab New Zealand.

This money will be used by HIT Lab to undertake a feasibility study, develop its infrastructure and employ staff.

In return for our investment, HIT Lab will provide New Zealand with some enormously profitable spin-offs.

The HIT Lab will take product development and market access of New Zealand’s ICT and creative industries to a new level.

HIT Lab New Zealand’s partnership with HIT Lab Seattle will offer opportunities for research collaboration with one of the finest universities in the world.

It will offer our ICT and creative businesses a chance to tap into cutting-edge technology, networks, people and ideas.

This project will boost collaboration between New Zealand businesses and universities. This has long been a weak point and HIT Lab will help to address it.

HIT Lab’s business partners will have access to the resources of some of the world’s most successful companies.

Thank you again to the three HIT Lab partners for bringing such an exciting project to Christchurch.

Thanks also to Tom Furness and Mark Billinghurst for their belief in the potential of this project and their faith and commitment to turning it into a reality.

I’m proud to take part in such an innovative initiative.

Without the vision, drive, energy, passion of the CDC, the two universities and Mark and Tom, the HIT Lab New Zealand project would never have got off the ground.


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