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Deal heralds multi-million dollar export potential

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Research Science and Technology
Minister for Economic Development

Hon Trevor Mallard
MP for Hutt South

19 December 2007 Media Statement

New deal heralds multi-million dollar export potential

The government is confident about Industrial Research Ltd’s (IRL) future following today’s signing of a commercial agreement with General Cable Asia Pacific, and the government’s $12.5 million equity investment which will go towards strengthening the centre’s physical infrastructure and equipment.

Research, Science and Technology and Economic Development Minister Pete Hodgson and local MP Trevor Mallard today congratulated IRL and General Cable on their joint venture to develop and commercially produce a high temperature superconductor (HTS) cable.

“This is a great example of the commercialisation of research and of private businesses working in partnership with government agencies. IRL and General Cable are each investing around $2.4 million dollars over the next three years to take IRL’s development of HTS cable from the laboratory to the global market,” Pete Hodgson said.

“This is a significant development for the New Zealand HTS industry. This industry has a potential market of over $200 million by 2015 and a potential GDP impact of over half a billion.”

“IRL is an important player in the local economy and employs around 300 people – I am pleased that with the government’s contribution IRL will continue to contribute to our community,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The equity injection reflects the events surrounding the earlier failure of IRL’s BioPharm, and also reflects the government’s attitude to CRIs that are prepared to take a punt that doesn’t make it to market,” Pete Hodgson said. “However, the HTS cable is another of IRL’s platforms that has been supported by taxpayers over a long period of time, and which is now on the verge of delivering a significant result.”

Superconductors are materials which carry electrical currents with little resistance at very low temperatures. The HTS cable is smaller, lighter and more efficient than conventional copper wires, and can operate at a more practical higher temperature of around -190˚C. The cable will be used in large generators, transformers, motors, magnets and induction heaters.

IRL’s research in this area has received government funding from the Foundation for Research Science and Technology and the Marsden Fund.

“IRL plays an important role in supporting industry in developing new products and processes, but equally important is its long-term research which looks to the future to identify technologies that open up new opportunities for New Zealand. The HTS research and development is a good example of this,” Pete Hodgson said.

“Until now an obstacle to the broader uptake of HTS was that many applications required more than the available single HTS wire, which was not suitable for the widely used AC current – IRL’s new cable successfully overcomes this challenge.

“This breakthrough and collaboration offers a potentially important new export area for New Zealand and will contribute to the growth of our economy.”


ENDS

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