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Lucrative high-tech contracts vetoed

7 August 2013

Lucrative high-tech contracts vetoed

The future of a world-renowned high-tech company hangs in the balance after Steven Joyce’s Callaghan Innovation stopped it securing multi-million contracts, Labour MPs Megan Woods and Trevor Mallard say.

“KiwiStar is a Callaghan Innovation subsidiary making precision telescope lenses and has been described by Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist John Tonry as ‘one of the best companies in the world’,” Megan Woods says.

“KiwiStar was about to sign a $2.4 million contract with the Australian Astronomical Observatory. But Callaghan Innovation’s chief executive Mary Quin vetoed the work because it didn’t fit with the organisation’s new focus.

“There will be job losses and two further deals worth more than $3 million with the California Institute of Technology (Caltec) and Berkeley – which bring important scientific associations – have been lost,” she says.

Callaghan Innovation was set up by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce in February through the amalgamation of Industrial Research Limited, with staff from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

“Its mandate was to accelerate the commercialisation of innovation in Kiwi firms but this is what we always feared; that Callaghan Innovation will be a shop front and not provide the science to drive serious innovation in this country,” Megan Woods says.

MP for Hutt South Trevor Mallard said high-value manufacturing was the key to the future of the Hutt Valley.

“It is very sad to see this work lost. For a government agency to abandon the chance to work with Caltec, which is one of the very top US universities, is close to criminal negligence.”


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