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Festival Taps Into Nation's Innovation Potential

MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FESTIVAL TAPS INTO NATION'S INNOVATION POTENTIAL

Auckland, 23 July 2004.

Organisers of New Zealand Innovation Festival say that the future of New Zealand business is in good hands, if our ability to innovate is anything to go by.

The inaugural New Zealand Innovation Festival has been staged over the past few weeks and has received an overwhelming response. Based on the highly successful Australian Innovation Festival, the New Zealand Festival celebrated and promoted across the country.

Close to 10,000 people from CEOs to secondary students participated in the multitude of events on offer.

Otago MP and NZ Innovation Festival Co-chair, David Parker: "I cannot stress enough the importance of innovation to the New Zealand economy. Innovation is the growth engine of 21st century prosperity, and underpins the growing strength of the New Zealand economy."

The Festival showcased some of the New Zealand businesses that spent more than $1.8 billion on innovation activities in the past year.

"Real tangible examples of kiwi innovation were exhibited by successful established companies like Formway who are selling their ergonomic chairs to the world. Newer businesses spawned from business incubators also displayed their wares. Public seminars by industry groups like the New Zealand Venture Capital Association has also helped to share knowledge that is integral to promoting innovation," says Parker.

Festival Advisory Council Member and Creative NZ Chair, Peter Biggs said that he too, was thrilled with the level of participation at festival events, and he expected even better and bigger things from next year's Festival.

"We've seen over the past few weeks wonderful examples of kiwi innovation, from Waikato University's winning SIFE student team, through to Fisher & Paykel Healthcare's exhibition at Auckland Museum and an inspiring presentation from the Triple Bills.

Co-operative research between academia and business was developing with significant results, and new research projects like Massey University's Product Development Process Survey could potentially benefit thousands of small and medium enterprises, Biggs said.

Massey University is only one of a number of examples of collaboration between tertiary education and industry and how New Zealand can capitalise on its innovation strengths."

"It's clear that the spirit of inventiveness and enterprise is flowing across and between sectors, and in organisations of every size. With nearly half of all businesses reporting innovation activities, it was clear that innovative practices were not the solely the domain of big business.

New Zealand was a small country which had learnt to compete with the best in the world by using our wits, imagination and a passionate intellect, he said.

As a result of the events and publicity surrounding the Festival, the organisers had also fielded enquiries from budding entrepreneurs around the country looking for help to develop their great ideas.

Already an online forum had been developed (www.ion.net.nz ) to carry on the discussions around innovation and entrepreneurship initiated during the Festival and it was intended that this be sustained after the Festival was over.

David Parker thanked all of the businesses and supporters of the Festival for their time and support. Planning for the 2005 Innovation Festival is already underway and one goal for next year is the expansion into smaller regional centres where innovation abounds and needs acknowledgement. David Parker encouraged any organization wanting to become a part of the 2005 Festival to get in touch with the Festival Secretariat early.

Ends

About the New Zealand Innovation Festival 2004

The New Zealand Innovation Festival 2004 (www.nzinnovation.org ) is a tangible, unique way to celebrate the extent to which innovation is utilised by businesses and organisations to achieve success and competitiveness across a range of industries and sectors. The inaugural Festival 2004 sees more than 70 events happening in centres and regions throughout the country. These collectively showcase the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that characterises the special New Zealand approach to providing innovative leading edge solutions, regardless of whether it is in healthcare, forestry, science, applied research or the film industry. The 70 Festival events and participants all represent the three stages in the process of innovation: invention, translation and commercialization combined with New Zealanders' originality, collaboration and a pioneering spirit. The Festival captures this spirit, and as an annual event will become a platform for taking the New Zealand innovation story to the world.

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