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NZ's Biggest-Ever Celebration Of Innovation

MEDIA RELEASE

NZ'S BIGGEST-EVER CELEBRATION OF INNOVATION GETS UNDERWAY IN CHRISTCHURCH

Hon. Jim Anderton, Minister of Economic Development calls for collaboration at Canterbury Innovation Festival Launch

Christchurch, 28 April 2005 - New Zealand's biggest-ever celebration of Kiwi innovation and entrepreneurship, the 2005 NZ Innovation Festival, was launched in Christchurch at the Hewlett Packard IT Centre today, following a successful national launch in Wellington yesterday.

Speaking at the Christchurch launch Hon. Jim Anderton, Minister for Economic Development, said New Zealand has a proud history of innovation to build on, but in order to continue to grow we must foster smart ideas and develop them into products and services.

"People who think outside the square and find solutions to challenging problems, people who dare to dream, make our society dynamic and vibrant. They also generate new products and services to fuel the economy."

Mr Anderton used Christchurch-based Whisper Tech and Auckland-based Navman as examples of innovative companies which have successfully capitalized from accessing global value chains as well as working with international companies, utilising research information, market intelligence and distribution networks.

"When I first came across Navman I was quickly informed that they wanted to become a billion dollar company. At that stage its products - like navigation equipment on speedboats - were brought as accessories, after you'd bought a boat.

"By being linked to global manufacturers of recreational marine craft - the sorts of boats that use this equipment - they are fast becoming a multinational electronics firm."

Christchurch-based Whisper Tech is another success story. They have developed an external combustion engine that uses natural gas to heat water and generate electricity at the same time. Last year they signed a deal worth over $300 million to provide home water heating boilers for the United Kingdom.

Mr Anderton said New Zealand Trade & Enterprise has worked closely with both companies to assist their growth and development and will assist other New Zealand businesses with similar potential for growth.

"There is one very important difference about these companies and many others that are equally as innovative. They are both linked in to global value chains. They are already working with international companies, utilizing research information, market intelligence and distribution networks.

"We can open doors, but the next step is to encourage businesses to walk through them.

"By promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and market development, and by offering assistance in these areas, we are making some progress."

Mr Anderton said by showcasing success stories of innovation and entrepreneurship, the Innovation Festival is playing a key role in creating the environment New Zealand needs to lift its game and accelerate economic growth.

"This Innovation Festival should inspire us to move further towards high-value growth, to reach out into new markets and to realise our full potential as an innovative, entrepreneurial nation."

Rick Christie, Chair, Growth and Innovation Advisory Board echoes these sentiments and says science, technology and innovation are the keys to improving New Zealand's productivity and economic performance.

"Working harder at doing the same things won't increase our competitiveness. We need to unlock the latent talents, creativity and knowledge in our population to find new products and smarter ways of doing things.

"I support the NZ Innovation Festival as a powerful tool for inspiring and encouraging New Zealanders, especially young people, in innovation," Mr Christie said.

The two-week nation-wide Festival will showcase more than 120 innovation events and exhibits, in sectors ranging from film, fashion and gaming, to environmental science, biocommerce and agri-technology.

It has attracted the support of influential business leaders, such as Ralph Norris, CEO of Air New Zealand, and Hugh Burrett, CEO of ASB, as well as Government leaders.

ENDS

For further information about the NZ Innovation Festival 2005 please Visit http://www.nzinnovation.org/>


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