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Launch of Innovation story - Anderton Speech

Hon Jim Anderton
8 November 2002 Speech notes

Launch of Innovation story

5:00 pm
Friday, 8 November 2002
Launch of the Innovation Story University of Canterbury
Coppertop function venue, School of Commerce building
University of Canterbury, Christchurch

- Bob Kirk, Acting Vice Chancellor
- Chris Le Cren, Chair, National Science Technology Roadshow Trust
- John Raine, Pro- Vice Chancellor.
- Paul Claridge, Industry NZ, lead sponsor representative

Earlier this afternoon I had the privilege of opening a $7 million upgrade to the CWF Hamilton Jetboat engine factory here in Christchurch.

Hamilton Jet is a great story of New Zealand innovation, and it's one of the stories that this exhibition celebrates.

CWF Hamilton had a problem with his propellers getting broken when he took his small boat up rocky South Island rivers.

He responded to the problem the way so many innovative New Zealanders do: by developing a local solution.

He developed the Hamilton jet engine that doesn’t use propellers.

In contrast to many New Zealand innovators, he didn’t stop there – he went on and successfully commercialised his idea.

New Zealand's isolation and our small size has meant we have had to develop a culture of coming up with our own creative solutions.

We can't just throw money at problems.

But we do have the confidence and freedom to try things out.

These factors together with our geographical isolation and small size - and our confident resourcefulness have combined to create an attitude of thinking about problems differently.

Possibly one of the most attractive things about New Zealand is that we give things a go.

It's the attitude which has led in turn to brilliant scientific and engineering achievements, from the Hamilton Jetboat engine to Lord Rutherford and our America’s Cup winners.

Like Hamilton Jet, others like Academy Award winner Richard Taylor of Weta, and bungy-jump pioneer AJ Hackett have also successfully commercialised ideas born from uniquely New Zealand conditions.

This roadshow is a showcase of New Zealand innovation.

It's a demonstration of what some of the most progressive companies in New Zealand are doing.

The point of the exhibition is to inspire those who see it to take their own ideas and develop them.

New Zealanders are rightly proud of our successful sports people.

Well, perhaps the Black Caps are getting a hammering at the moment.

But we always seem to come together as a nation to celebrate our sporting success.

We need to learn to celebrate that success in every field of endeavour.

New Zealand needs to show the same passion for innovation that we show for sporting success.

We need to celebrate businesses that develop new ideas and turn them into world class successes.

That is the only way we are going to achieve the living standards we expect.

As a small country, far from most other developed countries, our major advantage in the world is our creativity.

We can’t rely only on the sun shining, the rain falling and the grass growing.

Yesterday new labour force figures were released showing there are more people in employment in New Zealand than ever.

But they also show that unemployment has increased slightly.

What that tells you is that we have to keep working constantly to expand the economy if we are to create the jobs we need.

We need those jobs for the sake of the people who work in them and we need them if we are going to fund world class social services, like health care and education.

So this is not an esoteric issue.

It’s not a matter of just saying ‘innovation would be nice.’

It’s a crucial issue for the social well-being of all of us.

We need to lead the world in developing and commercialising innovative ideas if we are going to have the jobs, incomes and living standards we need.

Industry New Zealand is supporting this exhibition with a grant of $103,000.

It was created to ensure the government plays its part in helping innovative companies to prosper and grow.

The exhibitions in Innovation Story will provide New Zealanders an insight into how some New Zealanders have achieved extraordinary things.

It will help our children to learn the value of tinkering, playing around with new ideas, then thinking about setting up a business based on a new idea.

This is what the Innovation Story aims to do.

To encourage our children to tinker and to dream.

Here in Christchurch the HITLab has recently opened at the Canterbury University. HITlab stands for ‘Human Interface Technology’.

It’s a unit that is working on the leading edge of virtual reality.

The director of HITLab, Mark Billinghurst, has come back to New Zealand to run the lab, and I understand he began his interest in these ideas from tinkering as a child.

Consider this: Many children who are now just starting primary school will work in industries that haven't been conceived yet.

Some of our top companies in ten years time haven’t been started yet.

The Innovation Story, and other initiatives like it, are fostering a positive attitude towards innovation.

I believe those attitudes are crucial to our success in the future.

I would like to congratulate those whose stories are told in this exhibition for sharing your stories.

And thank you for helping to stimulate an environment that encourages innovation.


ENDS

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