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Advanced Technology Institute Bill First Reading

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister of Science & Innovation

13 September 2012

Advanced Technology Institute Bill First Reading

Mr Speaker, I move that the Advanced Technology Institute Bill be now read a first time.

I nominate the Education and Science Committee to consider the bill.

At the appropriate time I will move that the Education and Science Committee report to the House on the Advanced Technology Institute Bill by 6 November 2012; and that the committee have authority to meet at any time while the House is sitting (except during oral questions), during any evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House, and on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House, and outside the Wellington area, despite Standing Orders 188, 190(a), and 191(1)(b) and (c).

Mr Speaker, this Bill provides the legislative framework for establishing the Advanced Technology Institute, or ATI – a new high-tech HQ for innovative New Zealand businesses.

The purpose of the ATI is simple: to help get New Zealand’s best ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace more quickly.

The reality is that New Zealanders are great at coming up with smart ideas but we need to become more successful at translating those ideas more quickly into commercially successful products.

The ATI will be a one-stop shop to help high-tech firms become more competitive by better connecting them with innovation and business development expertise and facilities that exist both within the ATI and across New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes, universities, polytechnics, and other research organisations.

It will focus on industries with high growth potential such as food and beverage manufacturing, agri-technologies, digital technologies, health technologies, therapeutics, and high-value wood products.

The ATI will help companies to grow and become more competitive. It will help increase the number of research and development (R&D) capable firms; lift New Zealand’s exports of high-value manufactured goods and services, and support economic growth.

An important part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda is ensuring there are better linkages between business, science, engineering and design to ensure great ideas are commercialised and generate income and jobs for New Zealanders.

The success of the ATI will be measured by how much it helps manufacturing and service firms to innovate, increase productivity, grow exports, and operate more efficiently.

Mr Speaker, growing innovation is a key way to growing the economy, and improving the standard of living of all New Zealanders.

This Government has set the goal of raising the amount businesses spend on R&D from 0.54 per cent to 1 per cent of GDP.

OECD research shows that at a national level increasing business expenditure on R&D drives economic growth. That is why we want the current investment from business in R&D to go up and that’s why we are co-funding with business in substantial R&D expenditure.

International evidence shows that institutes like the ATI help companies innovate beyond the point their own capabilities allow; enabling them to increase earnings and employ more people.

That’s why the Government committed $166 million in this year’s Budget to get the ATI up and running.

The Advanced Technology Institute Bill establishes the ATI as a Crown Agent recognising its mix of commercial and non-commercial objectives; its role in facilitation, and as a gateway through which businesses can access funding for research and development.

It will deliver specific programmes and initiatives and therefore there will need to be close alignment between the ATI’s strategy and activities, and government policy.

Based in Auckland, the Hutt Valley and Christchurch, the ATI will be very different from other New Zealand research institutions. It will be strongly business-focussed, and responsive to commercial imperatives and timeframes.

It will offer a broad range of innovation support services, including and technical services, as well as providing access to specialised expertise and facilities.

The ATI will also seek to improve connectivity between businesses and the significant but highly-distributed capability that exists across New Zealand’s many public and private research organisations. It will also provide a route to global knowledge, expertise and technology.

Collaboration will be key for the ATI.

To succeed, it must work with industry, Crown Research Institutes, universities and polytechs, and other research providers to develop partnerships that maximise commercialisation opportunities.

It will facilitate placements of researchers and graduate students with industry, while allowing academic stars to advance their careers and gain greater financial rewards.

The assets and staff of Industrial Research Ltd will much of the foundation of the ATI, and this Bill provides for IRL becoming a non-CRI subsidiary company of the ATI upon its establishment.

Mr Speaker, last month the Government appointed a highly experienced seven-member Establishment Board, which is charged with making the necessary operational decisions to get the ATI operational as soon as possible.

And we have announced that the ATI would be named after one of New Zealand’s greatest scientists – the late Sir Paul Callaghan.

Sir Paul believed science was not only about great ideas, but about getting value from those ideas through innovation and commercialisation.

Those views exactly reflect the ambition of the institute, so there can be few more appropriate names to be associated with it.

Mr Speaker, it is important that this Bill be considered promptly and reported back to the House by 6 November so that the ATI can be up and running early in 2013 and doing its good work for this country.

I commend this Bill to the House.

ENDS

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