Mapp: Launch of Cleantech Centre Otaki
18 November, 2010
Launch of Cleantech Centre Otaki
I would acknowledge the organisers of the official launch of the CleanTech centre. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this event, and to speak today.
New Zealanders instinctively expect a sustainable economy. It is part of living by our values.
Our clean, green image is at the core of our identity to the world. The ‘100% Pure' brand is known the world over.
We pride ourselves on this image. We work hard to maintain it, and hopefully, maximise it to its fullest potential.
As a nation, we also rely on our natural resources - such as our land, our water and our oceans - for our wealth-creating industries.
Our challenge is to maximise our productive potential, whilst also building the environmental sustainability that is at the heart of our image.
Some might say that this is a problem. Actually, it is an opportunity. New Zealand is uniquely placed to lead the world on being clean, green and productive.
The answer is through scientific, economic and environmental policy working together.
In particular, I would like to discuss the role that science and innovation plays, and how it has flow-on effects to our clean technologies.
It is this Government's view that well-designed economic instruments are part of the mix of policies that are good for growth and good for the environment.
The Prime Minister has made it clear that science and innovation are at the heart of the Government's economic agenda.
We have backed those words with actions.
It started with the 2009 Budget. This included increased support for fundamental science, the CRI Taskforce that is leading to more effective Crown Research Institutes, and the appointment of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman
In Budget 2010 we focused on connecting science and business with a range of new initiatives including the Technology Development Grants for research-intensive firms, the Technology Vouchers that help smaller firms access the science system, and support for commercialisation.
We are also developing the national science infrastructure on a strategic basis. The new Rutherford Discovery Fellowships address the retention of our most promising researchers.
The new Ministry of Science and Innovation simplifies the system and encapsulates our aim to ensure that science, innovation and business are interconnected.
In the environment space we have ramped up the uptake of the solar water scheme and extending it to include hot water heat-pump systems.
Four times as many solar systems are being installed in homes as a result of this programme.
We also introduced the hugely successful "Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart" home insulation scheme. Sometimes it's the simple schemes that lead to big results.
The Government also has work under way on better understanding the barriers to growth in the clean-tech sector.
Last Sunday, I attended the 6th Asian Photochemistry Conference, where solar power and clean energy was a main focus.
An area of particular interest to me is how we can encourage businesses to not just aim to meet their regulatory requirements in respect of the environment, but how we might get them to aspire to shoot for best practice.
This fits in well with the work under way around bringing science and business together.
Science and business
We cannot have innovation without science. We are also quite clear that we expect science to lead to innovation.
From there our businesses can build through commercialisation to increased revenues, and to greater efficiencies through new products and new techniques.
This challenge is being supported by the Government through new initiatives that allow businesses to more easily access funds to support research activities relevant to their businesses.
The Government is also improving the alignment between the CRIs and the sectors they support.
Strong links between government, firms and research organisations are also vital to support an effective innovation system for New Zealand.
New industries are just as vital to New Zealand as our traditional strengths.
The digital entertainment sector is one of these. Everyone in this region knows about Weta Digital and The Hobbit. But these are just the high-profile tip of an industry that is expanding and diversifying at an amazing rate.
Last week, I opened the Oktober Animation Studio in Auckland. Oktober are in partnership with US television giant Nickelodeon to be their lead digital animation source. This happened because they knew that New Zealand had the depth and creativity they needed. The Hobbit wasn't just about The Hobbit. It is actually part of supporting our prime position in what is a 21st century global industry.
Across the high-tech industries, similar success stories are apparent. The TIN100 group of companies shows just how much innovation is starting to drive our economy.
We recognise that the Government is not the primary source of innovation. Our role is to support this growth. In short, we are not picking winners, we are backing winners that have picked themselves.
So what role will clean technologies play in our future?
There are exciting global opportunities for clean technologies. I believe many of these will leverage off our strong culture of science, innovation and excellence in our traditional primary industries.
We are seeing an exponential increase internationally in clean technology investment and deployment of clean technologies such as wind turbines.
That in my view is important context for the initiative that we are here to celebrate today - the opening of the Otaki CleanTech Centre.
It seems highly likely that clean technology will be an important aspect of the global economy in the future.
I want to congratulate the Kapiti Coast District Council and Grow Wellington on this bold initiative.
I understand that a number of companies will have a presence in this centre and that universities and CRIs will also participate.
The centre is an excellent example of the type of collaboration that is needed to deliver maximum value from investment in research, science and technology.
I understand the vision for the CleanTech Centre includes a strategy group, a research network and commercialisation work.
There is some very bold thinking afoot too - for example, to power Otaki entirely from renewable energy sources and in effect, to take Otaki off-grid.
This is indeed exciting news.
To summarise, this Government does see clean technology economic opportunities for New Zealand. We believe many of these will leverage off our existing economic strengths, but not exclusively. Part of the Government's economic strategy is to encourage and nurture new enterprises in this space.
I am also looking forward to joining a group of OECD representatives to further our thinking in science and innovation. I would like to share with them the innovative work that is under way in our country.
It is clear that clean technologies will be a part of those conversations.
I wish the centre well and I pay tribute to the vision, energy, drive and leadership of the people who have got this centre to this point.
It will provide environmental benefits to the community and support the businesses which are seeing the opportunities in developing clean technologies, products and services.
I am delighted that a regional centre like yours sees the vision and challenges and is helping build a better future for us all.