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Return to profit for IRL in 2007/08

Media release
3 October 2008

Return to profit for IRL in 2007/08

Industrial Research Limited (IRL) has returned to profit in the 2007/08 year as a result of its improved partnership with industry in some of its key areas of science and engineering, a good performance in the latest Foundation of Research, Science and Technology funding round, and continued savings through cost reductions in its day-to-day operations.

IRL Chief Executive Shaun Coffey says success in these three areas has generated an operational cash flow of $5.4 million compared with an outflow of $414,000 in the 2006/07 financial year. The company returned an after-tax profit of $543,000 in the 2007/08 year (an improvement of $6.75 million on the previous year) and retired debt of $11.9 million.

“IRL is operating well within its means and the debt retirement in the 2008 year means we have shed $23 million in debt since the 2004/05 financial year. Those achievements meant our shareholder – the Crown – had the confidence to make an equity injection into the company of $12.5 million. None of that has been, or will be used, on our day-to-day operations or to retire debt. It is being directed specifically at stimulating business development, fostering stronger links with industry, and purchasing new equipment that is essential to our science and engineering operations – all areas that are essential to our future growth,” he says.

Highlights of the year, outlined in the 2008 IRL Annual Report, include a joint venture with General Cable to turn IRL HTS cable technology into a commercial product. The joint venture company, General Cable Superconductors Ltd, aims to have a locally manufactured HTS cable available to the global market within two years, putting New Zealand significantly ahead in the drive to establish HTS as a key technology for the 21st century.

IRL also signed two long-term funding contracts with the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. One is supporting the company’s world-leading carbohydrate chemistry programme of glycotherapeutic drug discovery and development to treat auto-immune diseases and cancer.

The other is an ambitious programme of Information and Communications Technology research. This includes developing new wireless technologies that could see New Zealanders have access to higher speed and more reliable broadband services at a lower cost, 3-D or holographic audio technologies that would open the way for more realistic spatial sound reproduction from home theatre systems and novel optical communication devices based on polymers which will dramatically reduce the cost of delivering optical fibre to the home.

The IRL Report also notes individual staff achievements during the 2008 financial year, including two awards to physicist Tim Haskell. He won the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 2007 Hector Medal for his contribution to Antarctic science over a 30 year period and was awarded the Antarctic Medal in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List.


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