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Funds Boost Private Sector Research

FUNDS BOOST PRIVATE SECTOR RESEARCH

A new fund aimed at encouraging New Zealand businesses to take technology risks is proving popular, with nearly 1000 companies registering online with Technology New Zealand in its first 12 weeks.

Since it was announced in September, the Grants for Private Sector Research and Development (GPSRD) has allocated nearly $2million to a total of 36 companies. Fund manager, John Gibson, says he expects to double this by Christmas.

“We are investing in the technical and technological risk takers,” says Mr Gibson. “Companies facing other types of business risk already have access to investors and sources of funds whereas technology risk takers often have only their own resources to rely upon.”

The fund is intended to encourage SMEs (with a turnover of less than $50m) to invest more in R&D. Mr Gibson says to be successful, applicants must clearly identify the ‘technology gap’ they are addressing. “There needs to be a clearly evident technical risk or uncertainty, a measurable outcome, and a methodical resolution of the uncertainty. Other straightforward tests are applied to the applicant’s business, market and technical capabilities.”

The GPSRD fund is the first of the Technology New Zealand Schemes to operate via the Internet, with initial registration through its website, www.technz.co.nz. Technology New Zealand has developed a nationwide network of local agents to work alongside companies to help them complete the application. The online application form is validated by the agent as being suitable for funding within the GPSRD scheme.

“We are looking to fast track applications, so there is a monthly funding approvals cycle and successful applicants are usually advised verbally on the first business day of the following month,” says Mr Gibson.

Support is limited to a third of a business’s increased investment in R&D, to a maximum of $100,000. Although the fund is in its infancy, initial analysis shows a high proportion (66%) of grants made so far have gone to businesses in the Waikato and north.

The Government intends GPSRD to increase private sector investment in R&D as well as extend SMEs’ technological capabilities. Based on the current rate of applications, John Gibson expects the value of GPSRD grants to exceed $12 million by June 2001.

-ends-

For more information: John Gibson, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, 04 917 7863

Prepared for Technology New Zealand by Jan Sedgwick, Carrara Communications 09 579 7270


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