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Pilot projects for growth and innovation announced

22 March 2005

Pilot projects for growth and innovation announced

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today announced four cutting edge growth and innovation pilot projects - part of a programme aimed at developing a highly skilled workforce in key growth sectors for New Zealand's economy.

"The Labour-led government established a Growth and Innovation framework which identifies bio technology, information and communications technology and the creative industries as three areas with considerable growth potential for our economy.

"The projects I am announcing today reflect our government's commitment to targeting these areas. They are part of the Growth and Innovation Pilot Initiatives programme, run by the Tertiary Education Commission," Trevor Mallard said.

Trevor Mallard made the announcement at the Design Led Futures programme at Victoria University - an innovative product design course that has received funding in this round.

The new projects (descriptions are attached) are to share just over $3 million over three years. They include:

Design led futures (Victoria University of Wellington, Fisher and Paykel Appliances Ltd, Methven Ltd). ICT Professionals for the future (Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand, Massey University and related industry groups.) Design for the Timber Furniture Industry (Massey University). Biotechnology Sector Education Programme (University of Otago). Identification of future design needs for the fashion and textile businesses (Massey University).

Contracts for other projects covering areas such as biotechnology and animal health, biopharmaceuticals and the ICT labour workforce are expected to be finalised soon.

The Growth and Innovation Pilots programme was set up in November 2003 to provide funding for tertiary education organisations to develop more extensive linkages with industry within the biotechnology, design, and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors.

"New Zealand needs to take positive steps to improve its performance in collaboration within and between sectors," Trevor Mallard said.

“Treasury’s 2004 workshop on the productivity and performance of New Zealand enterprise clearly identified how critical it is that we forge better linkages across our economy between all sectors and businesses. This is an area where we lag well behind Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the United States,” he said.

“Unless we improve, we risk losing our international competitiveness in areas where we are leading the world.”

The Growth and Innovation Pilots programme is an integral part of the government’s Growth and Innovation Framework, a multi-agency approach that seeks to transform New Zealand into a prosperous and socially inclusive nation, based on sustainability, knowledge and innovation.

The Labour-led Government approved a total pool of almost $28 million over five years for the Growth and Innovation Pilots programme and nearly $4 million was allocated in the first round in mid 2004.

Descriptions of the successful projects, and contact points, are below.

Design led futures

The aim of this programme is to develop innovative product concepts that people not only need and use, but also value and enjoy.

Victoria University of Wellington School of Design students, guided by nationally and internationally acknowledged practitioners and academics, will explore future living scenarios as a means of developing fundamentally new product concepts. The intention is to develop an industrial design and manufacturing culture in New Zealand that is internationally competitive and recognised.

The two course coordinators of the Design Led Futures initiative are – Ross Stevens and Dirk Schmauser. Ross is a Senior Lecturers in industrial design and worked with Philippe Starck in Paris, among other things. Dirk Schmauser is the visiting designer from Austria where he was Managing Director of the Porsche Design Studio for 25 years.

ICT Professionals for the future

Engineers and computer science professionals play a major role in creating wealth in industries across a number of sectors through innovation and production development.

This project, involving collaboration between professional bodies, industry associations, and industry and tertiary education organisations, will lead to graduates in the ICT sector that not only have highly developed technical skills but will also have a more entrepreneurial outlook and approach.

Design for the Timber Furniture Industry

The timber furniture industry in New Zealand is a good example of an industry facing extreme pressure, not only in international markets, but more recently, in domestic markets as inexpensive Asian furniture imports become more prevalent.

The programme will lead to better-trained graduates in the design sector more closely linked with the timber furniture industries. It will provide opportunities for the forest industry to create added value and higher value markets for radiata pine and other species through the application of innovative designs.

Biotechnology Sector Education Programme

New Zealand is perceived to be a country strong on innovation. However, innovative products developed by New Zealand companies have not always generated sustainable wealth.

Although New Zealand biotechnology companies are formed on the backbone of excellent science, there is a real need to broaden many of the other capabilities biotechnology executives require to translate a brilliant idea into a profitable product.

The overall aim of this project will be to improve the business performance of the biotechnology sector by up-skilling management and other employees.

Courses will be designed to be rolled out nationally across New Zealand’s biotechnology / high-growth sector.


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