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Innovate keynote address - Jim Anderton

Hon Jim Anderton Speech Notes

Innovate keynote address

9:00AM Wednesday, 6 March 2002

Christchurch Convention Centre

Co-chair Dr Gaeme Fogelberg

Ministerial and parliamentary colleagues,


I proposed this event late last year.

I think it’s fair to say that the Ministry of Economic Development was less than impressed when I told them they would have to organise it.

At the time, they were right in the middle of organising in Rotorua the biggest regional development conference in New Zealand’s history.

Work began on this Innovate event only in November, and it is a tribute to the Ministry that we have more than seven hundred delegates, and a packed programme.

I proposed this event because I believe we need to celebrate and showcase New Zealand innovation.

New Zealanders are among the most creative, innovative and entrepreneurial people in the world.

Recently a large international survey was published.

It showed that we are the second most entrepreneurial country in the world.

Maori are the most entrepreneurial indigenous population group in the world

And New Zealand women are every bit as entrepreneurial as New Zealand men.

I saw another survey published last year that asked New Zealanders what we would like to be known for.

A significant group said it was our clean environment and the unique physical beauty of New Zealand.

A larger group said it was our fair, open, secure and stable society, with a strong health and education system.

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And I agree that both of these are descriptions of a New Zealand I would be proud of.

But the largest group said they wanted New Zealand to be known for its creativity and innovation.

Which is a very good place to start.

If we want a stronger economy and the opportunities that will attract and retain young New Zealanders then we must unleash that kiwi innovation.

We need to create successful, growing businesses, that produce things based on the unique skills of New Zealanders and which the rest of the world wants to buy.

We need to transform the industrial base of New Zealand.

We need to take those small enterprises that are employing five or ten people, and lift them up into strong, exporting businesses.

Only eight thousand New Zealand businesses out of a quarter of a million are exporting.

Fifty of them earn half of all our exports.

We have the lowest level of complex manufactured exports in the OECD.

This event is about celebrating the success of innovation and learning what it takes so that we can inform and inspire a new gneratuion.

This Government is implementing economic development policies focussed on unleashing New Zealanders' capacity for innovation.

We created Industry New Zealand to work in partnership with businesses and communities.

It is playing its part in ensuring that the Government is at the table.

Creating Industry New Zealand from scratch was a huge undertaking.

When I became Minister for economic development, there were no levers to pull.

It isn’t easy building a brand new national economic development agency from scratch.

I would like to say I am enormously proud of what Industry New Zealand has been able to achieve in a short time.

One of the first exhibits I saw in the Ideas Gallery belonged to Blokart.

It was a small operation operating from a garage at the Tauranga Airport when I first came across Blokart.

It won an enterprise award from Industry New Zealand.

Now it is turning over three or four million dollars a year, and exporting into the US as well as elsewhere.

Blokart is one example of the sort of innovative enterprise that Industry New Zealand is there to assist.

Another example is Marshal Software, an Auckland comipany that has developed email content and Internet access security products.

Marshal sells to NZ, Australia, North and South America, Europe and Africa and has grown very rapidly.

Its customers come from all sectors of business, education and government including the London Metropolitan Police, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and more than half of New Zealand’s top 40 corporations.

In April 2001 the Industry NZ board approved $100,000 of funding by the Business Growth Service.

The company wanted to grow out of cashflow which led to a cautious approach to expansion.

The Industry New Zealand funding enabled Marshall to take on a US consultant who gave the American market a contact and face for Marshal based in the US.

In the last year, the company’s North America sales have grown 500 percent.

Industry New Zealand’s assistance for companies like Marshall helps them to maximise their potential faster.

It helps to create jobs and rising incomes for New Zealanders.

The Government is setting in place programmes to encourage innovation.

Over the last two years the Ministry of Economic Development has been working closely with a number of industry sectors to map out strategies for unleashing their potential.

These industries include: biotechnology, information and communications technology and the creative industry.

They’ve got enormous potential in their own right as well as in their connections to other industries.

The first industry strategy was in wood processing.

From wood processing alone we can create 40,000 new jobs if we process the wall of wood instead of sending our forests across the wharves as raw log exports.

One of the essentials of growth is to ensure that we can tap into the best ideas, people and networks that the world has to offer.

As an exporting nation, we must maintain and enhance our connections with the world.

In last year’s Budget the government announced an initiative called World Class New Zealanders.

New Zealanders at all levels have always proven successful abroad.

We need to harness the connections and goodwill of those Kiwis who choose to live abroad.

Today I am able to announce that the World Class New Zealanders programme is ready to be launched.

World Class New Zealanders is a programme that is designed to fit the needs of small and medium New Zealand businesses.

The programme will help to increase New Zealand’s international competitiveness.

It will build on the capabilities of New Zealand’s potentially high growth small to medium businesses and entrepreneurs.

One component is the international business exchange programme.

It will use exchanges, internships and mentoring systems for New Zealand entrepreneurs and promising staff in small to medium businesses.

This will help to give New Zealanders access to skills and knowledge not readily available in New Zealand.

An example of an international exchange could be a New Zealand software company arranging for one of their software engineers to exchange positions for three months with a software engineer in a complementary business in California.

International business missions are another component.

A mission could involve a group of New Zealand fine wool designers and manufacturers visiting Italy and France to evaluate fashion products to ensure their product lines are consistent with the world’s best designs.

Industry New Zealand will be responsible for overall management and monitoring of the programme.

It will work in partnership with other agencies.

The World Class New Zealanders programme will primarily use existing and emerging networks of talented New Zealanders based overseas.

This will avoid duplication and competition with private networks, and it will allow Industry New Zealand to focus its resources on making the best use of those networks.

You’ll find brochures about the World Class New Zealanders programme and the missions and exchanges at this conference.

There is nothing wrong with New Zealanders going overseas – my own daughter is one.

The point of the programme is that we will make use of leading specialists and experts where their contribution can help New Zealand businesses.

The Coalition Government is playing its part in innovation.

We are looking at the things governments can influence and which are critical to building economic strength.

One is access to infrastructure and services – such as telecommunications and roads.

We are exploring, through pilot programmes, the use of new technologies to deliver broadband across New Zealand.

We have announced a major land transport package.

In addition to helping to address Auckland’s congestion it helps economic development in the regions – for example, by contributing to the roading necessary to unlock the wall of wood in places like Northland and the East Coats of the North Island.

The Government can provide advice and information on business opportunities.

Programmes such as Industry New Zealand’s business growth service and the Major Investment Service (which works closely with Investment New Zealand).

These enable New Zealand’s businesses to take better advantage of managing their growth.

We have significantly increased funding for the Industrial Supplies Office, so that more New Zealand firms are able to compete for government contracts both here and in Australia.

We’re working to foster cross-business partnerships such as clusters and joint businesses.

Industry New Zealand approved funding for 18 pilot business clusters last month.

It is critical for growing businesses to have access to the management skills needed to underpin their growth.

The assistance given by Industry New Zealand business advisers had proved invaluable to many firms.

A newly announced Fast Forward pilot programme aims to identify businesses that have the potential to become top performers in the New Zealand economy, and provide hands-on support.

Industry New Zealand’s business incubator programme has provided over $1.26 million towards to training and mentoring services offered by incubators.

The Enterprise Awards scheme is supporting the expansion of innovative small New Zealand businesses.

439 awards have been made totalling $3.7 million, and more will be announced during this event.

It will only take one of those firms to grow into a significant, job-rich exporting company, and New Zealand as a whole will have got its money back.

In fact the scheme has already been successful in pushing many of those firms to a much high level.

Access to advice is one crucial component of success.

Access to finance is another

The Government has created a $100 million Venture Investment Fund, and Industry New Zealand has set up an Investment Ready scheme that has helped to raise over $18 million for New Zealand firms.

The Labour-Alliance Coalition Government is determined to give New Zealand’s businesses the best chance possible to grow.

We need businesses to grow to fund the standard of living New Zealanders expect and to provide jobs.

I have spent most of my political life fighting unemployment, and fighting poverty.

The very best thing we can do to move people off benefits and to increase their incomes, is to build an economy that creates jobs for them.

This has vital social consequences.

Most New Zealanders are concerned about the crime rate.

They want to feel safe in their own homes.

And I believe that if we halved the unemployment rate, we would halve the crime rate.

Innovation is the crucial key to creating those jobs.

In a nutshell, that is why innovation is important: Economically, socially and for your business.

We must provide New Zealanders with hope.

Our talent, our uniqueness, our creativity…this is the springboard of hope for New Zealanders.

We have to look to ourselves to do it, because no one else in the world will do it for us.

And we must rely on the talent and innovation of New Zealanders, because the things that make us unique – that no one else can copy – will unlock a better future.

Government alone cannot produce the economic development we need.

We need a culture that celebrates success, that showcases talent, and that encourages others to try.

Go and look at the school kids playing the Innovate game!

I see this Innovate event as the start of a cultural shift.

A culture of success and a celebration of innovation is a cradle of hope for New Zealand.

Why is innovation important? Because our future lies there.

Thank you for putting Innovate at the top of your agenda.

© Scoop Media

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