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Decision more than bad optics

Megan Woods
Associate Science and Innovation Spokesperson

9 August 2013

Decision more than bad optics

News that Callaghan Innovation is to narrow its focus to assist successful businesses with near-market-ready products, raises questions about the research and development body’s actual commitment to innovation, says Labour’s Associate Science and Innovation spokesperson Megan Woods.

This week, Callaghan Innovation vetoed an innovative project involving astronomy optical equipment supplier Kiwistar Optics: ‘because it didn't fit with the organisation's new focus’.

“Backing products with promise is a commonsense approach. But the value and importance of supporting the innovation behind them seems lost on Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

“Given Industrial Research Limited has been merged into Callaghan, the question has to be asked, where will the science that underpins these high-value businesses come from?

“Callaghan CEO Mary Quin was appointed by the Government for her business acumen. What Minister Joyce is failing to see in his oversight of the organisation is that commercial success and new, novel ideas go hand-in-hand.

“Callaghan should be getting in behind exciting and potentially lucrative science and research opportunities such as the one offered by Kiwistar.

“Callaghan Innovation has been Steven Joyce’s baby since he first announced it. As Minister of Science & Innovation, he should be well aware of the need to invest in science and research.

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“Mr Joyce has been intimately involved in the response to the recent botulim scare. He of all people should recognise just how vital it is to diversify our economy and foster companies such as Kiwistar.

“The taxpayer has invested $1.4million into research projects that Kiwistar was about to bring to fruition. To undermine that investment and potentially let it escape offshore is, quite simply, unacceptable.

“Kiwistar Optics’ successes offer excellent examples of how high value manufacturing commercial opportunities can be created from investing in science. Why are we letting this opportunity go?”

ENDS

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