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Innovation key to economic development

Media release
21 October 2008

Innovation key to economic development

Stronger relationships between research and industry are vital for the development of new products, processes and industries that will help grow the New Zealand economy says Industrial Research Limited (IRL) Chief Executive Shaun Coffey.

Speaking at the announcement of the New Zealand Innovation Centre (NZIC) in Auckland today, Mr Coffey said initiatives like the NZIC provide a platform for partnerships between science and industry, bringing cutting edge scientific knowledge to the task of innovation.

“Facilities such as NZIC are another step in the maturing of New Zealand science and technology, providing a great opportunity for industry to get closer to research and development (R&D). Without the inspiration we get from R&D there would be no real innovation.”

Mr Coffey says as a nation, New Zealand is generally behind global technological performance and despite views to the contrary innovation and scientific R&D go hand in glove to fuel economic growth.

He says there is a wealth of evidence to show that technological breakthroughs based on increased knowledge have driven most of the rise in living standards in the developed world over the last 200 years.

“It is clear that firms that innovate as a result of investing in R&D are a key to economic development and we need more of them and for them to grow bigger.”

Mr Coffey says that growth will happen faster if there are stronger links between industry and the public research providers who carry out a high proportion of New Zealand’s R&D.

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He says the establishment of a new industry sector based on high temperature superconductivity is an excellent example of the contribution research enterprises like IRL can make to the development of great New Zealand companies and new industries.

IRL spin-out company HTS-110 is already producing magnets for global scientific and industrial markets while another recent spin-out, General Cable Superconducters, is producing energy efficient superconductivity cable for the power industry.

“We all know about our prowess as a nation with No.8 wire – forget that – this second generation wire will set a new standard for future innovativeness and Kiwi ingenuity. And this has all come out of materials science done over the last 20 years”.

“The NZIC provides the kind of platforms we need for research providers and industry to be closely connected, ensuring Kiwi inventiveness and inspiration is harnessed for economic benefit.”


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