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Association of Crown Research Institutes

8 November 2005

Association of Crown Research Institutes

ACRI supports commitment to science and innovation

Commenting on the Speech from the Throne, Anthony Scott, executive director of the Association of Crown Research Institutes said:

"The Association of Crown Research Institutes strongly endorses the view that science and innovation is critical to driving prosperity, and urges quick action on the policies proposed.

"Innovation, led by science research, is the only way in which New Zealand can further lift the nation's productivity, by ensuring that we have higher value products and outputs.

"We certainly have examples of success already. For example, export earnings from horticulture have grown from $116 million 25 years ago to $2.2 billion today. Similar examples can be found in other primary sector areas, such as forestry and agriculture.

"Private and public sector investment in innovation in the 19th century transformed New Zealand. We need similar boldness and imagination from private and public sectors today as Vogel demonstrated with his railways or Oamaru sheepfarmers with their creation of the world's first refrigerated ship.

"CRIs support long term investment arrangements, commitment to the stewardship of capability for the present and future needs of New Zealand, and to reducing compliance costs for those entities which have a track record of delivering on their promises.

"CRIs play a vital role in moving great science through to great commercial outcomes for the benefit of New Zealand.

"In most cases that is done with commercial partners. They also benefit from the international connections and world-scale resources we bring to what are often small companies or sectors.

"Smart investment mechanisms to enable a sometimes risk averse private sector to become more involved earlier on will be most welcome.

"As the Treasury Policy paper [The economics of knowledge: what makes ideas special for economic growth?] released today indicates, the social return from knowledge creation is greater than the private return. That can make our generally quite small private firms reluctant to invest in R&D.

"The nation's fundamental challenge is to invest more in RS&T, seeing it as an investment for our wealth and well-being rather than as a cost.

"Science enterprises have to also win public imagination and support for the transformational level of investment that is needed. We can do that by demonstrating that we are bringing our great science through to fruition as new products, new services, and new ways of doing things for the benefit of New Zealand.

"ACRI will welcome working with the Government on the detail around these policies."

ENDS

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