Bradford Speech on NZ Science to Korean Delegation
Notes For Powerpoint Presentation on New Zealand Science to
By Hon Max Bradford
Minister for Enterprise and Commerce
10.15am September 14, 1999
Carlton Hotel, Auckland
Embargoed until 10.30am
For the last 150 years, New Zealand’s economy has been based largely on wealth generated from our land-based assets – and we have been good at it. But in an age of global markets, global competition, we need to start doing things differently.
New Zealand has responded to changes in the global economy, including declining commodity prices, the formation and breakdown of trade barriers and protected markets, and the rapid evolution and dispersal of information technologies by opening its economy and increasingly focusing on manufactured goods and services.
Given these changes, New Zealand is now facing the challenge to think beyond how we have traditionally created wealth.
We must find new ideas, new ways to growing our economy. To achieve these goals, New Zealand must successfully enter the age of the knowledge economy.
Over the last couple of years there has been increasing business and government focus on the “knowledge economy”.
In a national knowledge economy creativity and new ideas are highly valued; and it is a society where knowledge is power.
For New Zealand to succeed in the global knowledge economy we need a few simple but vital ingredients:
New Zealand will need a more highly-skilled, science and technology literate workforce;
We will need to produce high quality, well-focused research and development. In the future, if you aren’t world class you’d better move on to something else; and
We need to maintain a smart information and communications infrastructure.
But having a highly skilled workforce, good research and development, and a well developed infrastructure won’t do us any good without the last ingredient – the right mind-set. We need to reinvigorate a national spirit that is daring, entrepreneurial and confident.
These are the challenges of the knowledge economy.
Fortunately, New Zealand already has a proud history of applying an innovative approach to the use of science and technology.
The Britten motorcycle and Team New Zealand’s success in the America’s Cup yachting are just two recent examples. The radical Britten motorcycle is one of the most advanced racing motorcycles in the world.
New Zealand expertise in hydrodynamics, boat design and construction and weather data technologies enabled Team New Zealand to win the prized America’s Cup trophy in 1996.
We can achieve sustained success in the knowledge economy by applying skills we already have as a nation - but in a much more deliberate and systematic way.
New Zealand has proved itself able to operate successfully in other knowledge industries. I will now discuss some examples.
I intend to detail a number of
technology clusters, which include:
• Information Technology and Telecommunications
• Engineering Technology
• Environmental technology
Following the conclusion of this address I will introduce Mr Bryce Heard, Chief Executive Forest Research, who will provide a presentation of New Zealand’s forestry and forest products technology.
Among New Zealand’s many S&T competencies, we have an enviable biotechnology capability.
New Zealand’s geographic isolation has helped protect us from many significant diseases affecting animals in other parts of the world.
As a result, we are recognised as having the world’s premier source of animal-derived biological materials.
Deer antler velvet extract products are being used in nutriceuticals and lifestyle products such as sports drinks.
Sea-derived products, such as shark cartilage powder, has potential in the treatment of cancer and arthritis.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are being extracted from fish oil for pharmaceutical and nutriceutical applications.
Immucillin is a powerful new pharmaceutical developed by New Zealand scientists in conjunction with the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in the US.
Immucillin has the potential to treat malaria and arthritis and is 1000 times more effective than penicillin.
New Zealand has a capability in the design and manufacture of telecommunications and information technology equipment, almost entirely for export. This sector is vibrant and innovative, and is receiving international recognition for providing specialised equipment and services.
New Zealand has a reputation for creating world-class motion
pictures. In the field of computer animation we have proven
ourselves to be world leaders.
Our newest and most ambitious project is the upcoming “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy. This project to turn JRR Tolkien’s famous novels into three movies has a budget of $360 million dollars - more than twice the value of New Zealand’s annual exports of our world-renowned wines.
New Zealand won this project because of the unique technologies and expertise that Peter Jackson, the New Zealand director, has gathered together at his Wellington studios. Jackson’s whole enterprise is a great example of a cluster of excellence based on entrepreneurial skills, a global outlook, creativity and high technology.
Of course, another reason why Lord of the Rings is being filmed here is NZ’s range of locations - within a day’s travel we have mountains, lakes, deserts - perfect for this, and many other films.
Tait electronics is a fine example of small New Zealand companies being able to establish a niche market on a global basis.
Tait is New Zealand’s largest electronics company, and solely dedicated to radio communications.
A private company, Tait’s success stems from re-investing virtually all profit in research and development and leading edge manufacturing equipment.
The result is a 30-year history of quality, innovation and flexibility in meeting customers’ radio communications needs.
One of the company’s strengths is the ability to tailor products and systems to particular customer’s requirements through its Custom Solutions Group.
Tait is also actively working towards the new digital era in radio communications with a large team of engineers developing products based on the TETRA open standard.
Voice Technology Limited is an innovative New Zealand company which has provided ground-breaking technology in the development of “screen-pops”.
This technology provides a link between an incoming calling line ID number with an on-line database that “pops” the customer’s information on a screen before the call is answered.
International customers in Australia and soon the United States include fast-food chains such as KFC and Pizza Hutt.
Another area of expertise New Zealand boasts is in the field of earthquake research. This is part of our overall engineering competency.
You will see from this map of earthquake locations in New Zealand, we are well qualified to talk about earthquakes.
New Zealand is earthquake prone. Because of this we have a lot of research and engineering expertise and our earthquake scientists and engineers are world recognised.
Geological and Nuclear Sciences, a crown research institute undertakes detailed hazard studies, and has done some consultancy work in conjunction with the Korean Geological Survey.
New Zealand was one of the world’s first designers of base isolation. The devastation of earthquake effects can be reduced by base isolaters which can be retro-fitted to existing structures.
Three key national buildings which have had base isolaters fitted are our National Library, Te Papa Tongarewa and our own Parliament Buildings.
The same base isolators have been used successfully in building structures in Kobe which withstood the severe impact of the recent earthquake.
One of the government-owned research companies we referred to before, Industrial Research Limited, has developed the world’s first commercial high-temperature superconductor magnet.
This has applications for electricity storage devices, electric motors, current limiters, protecting power systems, HTS cables for electricity transmission magnets for industrial processing.
This technology improves energy efficiency and power quality for industry.
Industrial Research has also developed breakthrough surface treatment technology for magnesium.
Magnesium is a common metal equal in strength to aluminium but half its weight. However, it is highly reactive with air and needs an effective surface treatment to prevent corrosion.
By developing a surface treatment, IRL has opened the door for increased use of magnesium in many industrial applications. For example, increased use of magnesium components in cars, (such as engines, doors and gear boxes) will mean lighter cars with less fuel consumption.
Another innovation by IRL is the development of robotics for sheep processing using intelligent devices.
Robotic arms are installed in sheep processing plants which open the pelt on a carcass. This function was previously carried out by manual labour at high risk of injury. This technology is more hygienic and extends the shelf-life of exported chilled meat.
New Zealand has a mix of geographical, biological and climate features that have enabled us to develop a unique mix of environmental science and technology competencies. It is one of our foremost areas of expertise.
Another of our Government owned research companies, the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere is doing some exciting research in atmospheric science activities such as wind energy and weather forecasting. They also have expertise in freshwater aquaculture, hydrology and coastal environmental work.
Through NIWA, New Zealand has joined the APEC initiated management of environmental research through the Environment Technology Exchange Programme. Japan and Australia have their Virtual Centers in operation, China and New Zealand launch their nodes in November.
Each node contains links to environmental technology information within that particular economy which allow both sharing of information and showcasing of environmental expertise.
An example of how it works, we could enter into the APEC index and search for environmental indicators on current trends in air pollution.
• We would click on Air
• then click on Christchurch
• then click on Carbon Monoxide
• And we
would see carbon monoxide indicators in Christchurch air for
• Green for excellent
• Purple for acceptable
• Yellow and red for alert and action
• Clearly an improvement at this site over three years - more hours at the excellent level.
This is a good example of using technology for monitoring the effects of environmental policies. We also have similar information available for other cities and pollutants.
I’ve shown you that New Zealand is already competing successfully in niches of the global knowledge economy.
But we know we need to progress further.
The New Zealand Government is committed to supporting the development of our knowledge-based economy. Key policies include:
A Government investment of almost $700 million in research, science and technology. This investment supports basic and applied research across a wide range of economic, social, environmental, health and educational areas.
A crucial component of the Government’s drive to facilitate New Zealand’s entry into the knowledge economy has been the Foresight Project. Over 130 community, business and education groups developed strategies during the 18-month project. As well as helping to inform Government’s investment, these strategies have enabled these groups to identify their own paths to future prosperity.
A direct result of the Foresight Project is the recently launched “Blueprint for Change”. The blueprint builds on the Foresight Project and sets a new strategic framework for Government’s investment in research, science and technology.
Government has recently created a “New Economy Research Fund.” In order for New Zealand to progress successfully into the knowledge age, we need to maintain our commitment to cutting-edge research.
Through this Fund we will increase our chances of finding new growth areas and emerging opportunities in the global economy.
In a wider context, the Prime Minister has recently issued a major policy statement called: “Bright Future: Five Steps Ahead.”
This package details Government’s programme to facilitate
New Zealand’s development as a knowledge based society. The
package works on the basis that New Zealand’s future wealth
and prosperity will be driven off five key
Learning to Excel by lifting New Zealanders’ skills and New Zealand’s intellectual knowledge base;
Generating good ideas by better focusing the direction of the Government’s effort in research and development;
Funding bright ideas by improving access to risk and investment capital;
Allowing more freedom to innovate by ensuring regulations and laws support, not frustrate, innovation; and
Encouraging a spirit of success by promoting success and building a supportive culture for creative and innovative New Zealanders.
A key ingredient in the development of New Zealand’s knowledge-based economy will be our ability to create a society that enables innovation, while at the same time fosters social inclusiveness.
To achieve this goal, all New Zealander’s will need to understand, and be able to productively use science and technology.
It is also absolutely certain that science and technology will play a vital part in creating New Zealand’s bright future, in creating the innovations of tomorrow.
I hope that I have demonstrated New Zealand is small and agile with an ability to be innovative. I encourage you to follow-up any questions you may have with your New Zealand counterparts over lunch. I am sure that we have many area of mutual interest which we could usefully explore.
Thank you. I will now hand you over to Mr Bryce Heard, Chief Executive of Forest Research, who will provide you with a presentation on the Foresty Sector.