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Shaun Coffey thanked for transforming IRL

Shaun Coffey thanked for transforming IRL into crown jewel of Callaghan Innovation

Industrial Research Ltd chairman Michael Ludbrook has praised outgoing IRL Chief Executive Shaun Coffey for tranforming the Crown Research Institute into a national asset that will be the crown jewel of Callaghan Innovation.

“The final version of Industrial Research Limited has a soul. It has a soul because it has a purpose,” says Michael Ludbrook, chairman for the past 18 months of the industry-facing science and engineering Crown Research Institute.

“Let us not forget that in the short space of six years, IRL transformed itself from a cot case to poster child of achieving what it set out to do,” he says.

“Callaghan Innovation is being handed a high-tech organisation with a lot of tools in the toolkit.”

Part of the six year turnaround was a $40 million change in debt from -$25 million to $15 million in the bank, an increased science capability and vitality, and much more engagement with business.

Ludbrook says it was evident when he first visited, and subsequently, that its scientists and engineers are passionate about serving the needs of industry, and solving their problems.

“The whole of IRL has contributed to its DNA change of culture, and this was happening well before I came onboard,” he says.

“It is no coincidence that the man at the helm during that time was Shaun Coffey as chief executive. New Zealand owes him, and the team, he built a debt of thanks for transforming IRL into an externally focused organisation concentrating on solving industry problems.”

“Shaun’s major legacy at IRL is a more creative science system and people with a keen focus
in putting science to work in industry.”

Ludbrook says the IRL leadership development programme significantly modified the organisation, and produced results such as ‘What’s Your Problem New Zealand’ and ‘Scientist for a Day’ – all aimed at engaging with industry and people with problems and questions and answers.

The number of young scientists and engineers also increased enormously during the past six years, with expanded training activities and increases in internships and student fellowships.

“The other thing that was set up on Shaun’s shift was the precursor and environment for an Advanced Technology Institute, an industry-science interface structure surely to be seen in the near future,” he says.

“During his time, Shaun changed the game and argued that industry as well as government must increase its level of research and development spending,” Ludbrook says.

Ludbrook says the fact that 85% of its science research contracts have an industry commitment demonstrates an organisation that walks the talk of working for New Zealand.
“Shaun’s direct industry involvement is part of the reason that he was named as one of New Zealand’s top 25 business influencers last year,” he says.

Ludbrook says the swift change of IRL to being part of Callaghan Innovation should in no way dull the lustre of the crown jewel the new agent is receiving.

“IRL today is a national asset, a great organisation with great people,” he says.

“As Shaun steps down as Chief Executive, on behalf of the board, and wider New Zealand, thank you for a job well done.”


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