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R&D alive and well in New Zealand

June 29 2006

R&D alive and well in New Zealand

A new publication tracking research and development in New Zealand over the decade 1994 to 2004 highlights the way R&D in New Zealand has been growing.

The publication Research and Development: A Decade in Reviewƒx, has just been published by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. It collates, for the first time in a single document, statistics on where R&D is being carried out, and the level and sources of investment for research carried out in this country.

Dr Helen Anderson, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, says the publication represents an important resource for our understanding of how the science and technology sector is performing, and how businesses are using R&D to improve their innovation.

"Science and technology provide an essential platform for innovation. Without research there will be few new products or processes and we will miss out on innovative ways of sustaining our unique environment and enhancing New Zealanders' health and wellbeing," she says.

"One very pleasing development to note from this publication is the rise of the specialised scientific research industry, the fastest-growing area within the business sector. It has trebled in value over the period 1994 to 2004, largely thanks to an increased emphasis on biotechnology R&D in New Zealand by the private sector.

"In 2004, $349 million worth of biotechnology R&D was performed and export earnings generated by biotechnology companies are predicted to reach $1 billion by 2014."

Dr Anderson says the statistics show that the Government remains a major funder of R&D in New Zealand. However, she says business investment is increasing.

"Business expenditure on R&D has increased at six percent a year in real terms over the last decade and since 2000, has increased at a rate of nine percent a year.

"That's a very welcome development and shows that the private sector is well aware of the role R&D plays in innovation, in increasing their productivity and in giving them a competitive edge on global markets."

The primary sector is a major focus of research in New Zealand with 22 percent of all R&D performed in New Zealand supporting agriculture, forestry and fishing. Much of the R&D in industry - which accounts for a further 22 percent - involves processing and value creation from New Zealand's primary products.

ENDS

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