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Helen Clark: Launch of NZ Innovation 2004 Festival

Helen Clark: Launch of NZ Innovation 2004 Festival

Prime Minister’s Speech: Launch of NZ Innovation 2004 Festival

A festival is a time for celebration, dynamism, and vitality.This festival with a difference has all those characteristics because it's about celebrating, promoting, and popularising innovation - New Zealand style.

The concept of a festival is often associated with the arts or with religious or public events.

A festival is a time for celebration, dynamism, and vitality.

This festival with a difference has all those characteristics because it's about celebrating, promoting, and popularising innovation - New Zealand style.

Innovation is the growth engine of 21st century prosperity. And it makes for much more dynamic and interesting societies too !

A commitment to innovation paves the way for not only the production of much more up market goods and services, but also for more highly skilled, highly paid and satisfying employment as well.

New Zealand today is being transformed by Kiwi innovators.

New sectors of the economy are being created in previously undreamed of areas.

And traditional sectors are finding new ways of processing, presenting, and promoting their products.

Twenty years ago, who would have thought of an internationally recognised and admired business based in Wellington supplying special effects to the film industry?

Twenty years ago, would Italian fashion houses have built relationships with New Zealand sheep stations producing merino wool to their specifications?

Twenty years ago, would we have thought of information and communications technology exports growing to rival the wool industry's exports?

Innovation, branding, smart marketing, and smart people have made all these developments possible, and I believe that is what underlies the growing strength of the New Zealand economy.

Through innovation we enhance the capabilities of all our sectors, from the primary to the secondary and service sectors.

That is why there is a buzz around the New Zealand economy today.

There is a new generation of entrepreneurs with good ideas, bursting to grow, and prepared to take risks.

And there's a plethora of stakeholders - from tertiary education, to research institutions, government agencies at all levels, regional clusters, and business organisations there to support the innovation thrust.

A festival like this aims to spread the excitement, share the secrets of success, and raise awareness of the importance of innovation.

It will profile many of our innovative goods and services, and show how smart ideas are driving business success.

As an economy we need to raise our sights ever higher.

And that ambition has to be reflected in the aspirations of our people and our companies to succeed.

Among the most important contributors to the festival in my view will be those who have grown their companies from start ups to significant sized companies.

Doing that requires different skills from those of the founder-innovator.

It requires a depth of management, good company structures, an ability to delegate, and often a willingness to involve outside directors.

The report of the ICT Taskforce released last year focused on some of these critical challenges in growing larger companies.

Our government has nailed its colours to the mast of growth through innovation.

We know that New Zealanders have the skills to drive that growth; we know it's sustainable; and we know it will deliver higher living standards.

We will play our part through the government's investments in education and skills, science and research, business and regional growth programmes, and through strong growth oriented policies and sound economic management.

We believe we've created a platform on which New Zealand's innovators can build and thrive.

I thank all those innovators who are giving their time and their enthusiasm to the festival. They demonstrate that innovation is not an abstract concept, but rather a driver of their extraordinary success. And they urge others to follow.

It's a pleasure to officially launch NZ Innovation 2004 and wish it every success.

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