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Internships to boost Māori business innovation

Internships to boost Māori business innovation

Industrial Research Ltd (IRL) and partners unveiled a Māori Enterprise Internship programme on Saturday, designed to boost the science and innovation capability of Māori businesses and help grow a sector of the NZ economy worth around $37 billion.

The Hikohiko Te Uira Maori Enterprise Internship Programme, a collaborative venture between IRL, the University of Otago and the Federation of Māori Authorities, starts this month, with three Otago undergraduate and postgraduate Māori students hosted by IRL in Wellington.

The pilot initiative was set up to build Māori science and technology expertise that will in turn boost the innovation capability of Māori businesses, says IRL General Manager of Industry Engagement Gavin Mitchell. “The programme’s ultimate goal is to increase the number of Māori entities involved in the creating wealth through innovation and R&D,” he says.

Over the course of the 10-week programme, three students will work with IRL’s world-leading science and commercialisation teams before heading out to work in the Federation’s member trusts and incorporations, which together account for almost $8 billion of the $37 billion Māori economy.

The students will also develop a wider understanding of the issues relating to Māori development through exposure to key Government agencies involved in science and innovation and economic development.

As hosts, IRL will support the students while they are in Wellington, while Otago will provide travel assistance as well as academic and pastoral oversight.

Mitchell says that a growing Māori economy means there is a greater need for Māori-specific skill sets, capacity and capability, to facilitate effective connections between the science and innovation system and the many Māori entities, including incorporations, trusts and small-to-medium sized enterprises. “The programme will help meet the increasing demand from Māori entities wanting to engage more in science and innovation to create wealth and greater well-being.”

Federation Chief Executive TeHoripo Karaitiana says that by focusing on bringing science and innovation, Māori business and Government together the programme will help to develop young Māori who are well positioned to support Māori business growth. “We see this as an enormous chance to make a significant contribution to our members, to the Maori economy and to New Zealand as a whole.”

University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie says the focus for the programme is to expose Māori students to the science and innovation system from a kaupapa Māori perspective, and to transfer knowledge, skills and capabilities from the Universities and CRIs more directly to businesses through the student interns.

The Hikohiko Te Uira Māori Enterprise Internship pilot programme builds on IRL’s existing summer student programme, an initiative key to building the skilled workforce needed to grow New Zealand’s high value manufacturing and services sector. The programme also furthers IRL’s existing partnership with the Federation, which provides science and innovation support with the aim of unlocking unrealised potential sitting with Iwi and Māori entities and within Māori businesses.


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