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New High Tech Council Wants New Govt Support

The recently established NZ High Tech Council is looking to the Labour Alliance Government to provide real support for the high tech industry sector, which has been earmarked as New Zealand's best chance of developing a prosperous economy in the next millennium. Newly appointed chairman, John Ball, says the high tech sector is currently experiencing a 30% growth rate in technology exports and an annual growth rate between 13% and 31% across the IT sector, with the entire industry poised to explode onto the international market given anywhere near the support currently afforded primary industry.

"We are no longer the poor cousins, in fact we could soon be the prodigal sons", he says. "Labour's Industry Development policy announced in April has given us every confidence they will continue to develop the high tech sector. They have promised that: the Labour initiated Technology NZ will be working to remove barriers that inhibit investment in innovations; R&D will be eligible for full tax expensing in the year of investment; the taxation system will keep abreast of technological change; and small to medium sized business can anticipate state assistance in the cost of protecting their R&D investment.

"The High Tech Council also applauds the proposed strengthening of technical management skills programmes through TechNZ and grants to assist with the investigation of new products, exports markets and significant technological shifts," says John Ball. "The promised development of true Venture Capital funding and Angel Networks will go a long way to providing the financial basis for the development of the high tech sector and we would look forward to working with the proposed Industry New Zealand board in delivering all of this policy to our industry."

The one concern the High Tech Council does have over a change in Government is that the very strongly supportive policy announced in National's Bright Future package be continued. "In particular we would hate to see the $2.25 million investment in incubator programmes announced by Max Bradford in November being scrapped", says John Ball. "Incubators are fundamental to the development of new ideas in a technology based economy, with the success of Ireland, Norway and Israel bearing testimony to this."

"It is an exciting time, not just for the High Tech industry, but New Zealand as a whole and we will be working pro-actively as a Council to advance the opportunities and prosperity new technology can offer to us all", says John Ball.

The NZ High Tech Council, which was formed following the industry awards this month, is representative of software and hardware manufacturing groups, telecommunications, Internet and intellectual capital based organizations. The nine-member board will meet regularly and aims to provide a strong, united political voice for the High Tech industry.

MEMBERS OF THE NZ HIGH TECH COUNCIL

Chairman: John Ball Director NZInC

Members: Dennis Chapman Director NZInC

John Blackham Director NZInC

Michael Wake EXPANZ Northern Region

Phill Holliday EXPANZ Southern Region

John O'Hara NZ Software Assoc

Adele Dimopoulos NZ Software Assoc

Prof. Howard Frederick NZ Internet Institute

Iain Munro TENZ

James Kennedy TENZ

SPOKESPERSON : Vivienne Feijen, Phone 021 658 350 for further comment if required.

Prepared by Jane Smallfield: Phone 021 215 7292.


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