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R&D Survey Highlights Need for More Collaboration

Media release

R&D Survey Highlights Need for More Collaboration Between Business and Researchers

30 October 2006 –

A survey looking at how New Zealand’s research organisations, universities and businesses work together highlights the need for greater collaboration around R&D, says Research, Science and Technology Minister Steve Maharey.

The survey was commissioned by Business NZ and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology in the lead up to the Capitalising on Research Summit, being held in Auckland this week.

It finds New Zealand businesses tend to limit the number of organisations they work with when undertaking research and development.

Steve Maharey said the survey highlighted the need to find practical ways to make science a commercial reality for New Zealand businesses, and that this would be a key focus of the Summit.

"The reality is that many Kiwi businesses are small and don't have the
capacity to invest in R&D," Steve Maharey said.

"We need to think about how we provide an innovation system around
them, to increase collaboration, lift private investment and foster a culture of R&D.

"This event presents a major opportunity for business and science to look at practical ways to achieve these goals."

Business NZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly said the survey showed there is room for improved collaboration.

“International research shows that businesses which seek out, and work with, other organisations including research institutes, government, universities and other business increase their chances of successful innovation while reducing costs.”

The survey also demonstrates those who businesses consider most important when developing or implementing innovations are customers, people in the business itself and suppliers. Least relevant were relationships with Crown Research Institutes, private research organisations, financiers, universities, central and local government, and industry organisations.

“In a small country such as New Zealand where a number of barriers of scale exist, collaboration across a variety of organisations is critical to keep research and development costs down and to increase the chances of successful innovation,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“While it would be tempting to conclude from the survey that New Zealand businesses see no benefit in cross-organisation collaboration, businesses overseas consistently report the benefits of collaboration with public sector organisations and other businesses. There are no reasons which would make New Zealand any different in this regard.”


About the survey:

180 firms from around New Zealand completed the online survey in July 2006. Respondent firms tended to have more than 50 staff (47%); 26% had between 20 and 49 staff; and 20% had less than 10 staff. Respondent firms were wide-ranging in terms of revenue: 15% had revenue over $50 million; 34% had revenue of $10 million - $49 to $50 million; 38% had revenue between $1 million and $10 million and 13% had revenue of less than $1 million. Respondents came from a variety of industries including manufacturing, construction, property and business services, health and community services, and transport and storage.

Further survey findings:

Possible impediments to co-operation between business and research institutions (both universities and CRIs) include:

- concerns over secrecy when external parties are involved in commercially-sensitive research and development (R&D);

- administrative and cultural differences when dealing with research institutions;

- niche market specialisation requiring in-house expertise that has developed over time;

- limited capacity to absorb the investment required to bring untried technologies through to a marketable stage, given the uncertainty of returns;

- a tendency to be technology adapters rather than leaders as a way of containing financial risk; and

- some reputational issues over CRI capabilities.

- 88% of respondents plan to develop or implement an innovation in the next three years

- Views on government financial assistance or tax concessions as a potential impediment to future innovation were polarised – 27% of respondents thought this was a very important factor, while 32% thought they were irrelevant

- 82% of respondents had developed or implemented an innovation in the recent past. Of these innovations 56% were products, 22% were services and 22% were processes

- Of the innovations reported, 35% occurred in the past year, 39% occurred in the past years, 20% occurred in the past 3-5 years and 6% occurred 6-10 years ago.

About the Capitalising on Research summit:

The two-day summit - Capitalising on Research - is an invitation-only event hosted by Research, Science & Technology Minister Steve Maharey and will be held in Auckland on Tuesday 31 October and Wednesday 1 November 2006. The summit is a joint initiative of the government and Business New Zealand through its four regional associations: EMA Northern, EMA Central, Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, Otago-Southland Employers’ Association.

The national summit will showcase innovation, identify opportunities to strengthen the relationship between research and development and business growth, and profile successful collaborative ventures.

For more information visit


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