The government's Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Taskforce has set the country a bold goal: to build 100 companies each with annual sales of $100 million by the year 2012.
The taskforce, which released its report today, was commissioned by technology minister Paul Swain in May to "identify ways in which the ICT sector can boost its already substantial contribution to the economy", according to the press release at the time.
The taskforce was charged with looking at how best to encourage business growth in the ICT sector and reached the conclusion that there are two main barriers to any growth: lack of venture capital and lack of skilled people. The government now seeks feedback from the wider IT community, and beyond, on the conclusions and how best to proceed.
"This means that ICT will need to increase from contributing 4.3% of GDP to 10%, by 2012. The taskforce believes this is achievable provided certain barriers to growth are overcome," says the report.
Rather than try to take on countries like Taiwan or Malaysia through ventures such as semiconductor plants, the report suggests New Zealand should concentrate on those "high-value niche products and services" that local companies are already producing.
The report contains a number of case studies from companies like Tait Electronics in Christchurch which fall into this category.
One of the major problems facing any such expansion of the ICT sector is a lack of skills. The report says current estimates put the ICT sector's share of GDP at a plateau of 6% by 2012, rather than reaching the 10% GDP contribution the taskforce feels is achievable.
Immigration is seen as one short-term solution to the longer-term problem.
"It is imperative that New Zealand takes urgent measures to address future ICT skill shortages, especially since ensuring an adequately trained and continuous supply of ICT talent will have a long lead time.
An expanded immigration programme, focussed on ICT skills, is likely to be a major requirement in order to achieve the growth target."
Other areas focussed on in the report include leadership and experience in international sales and marketing.
The ICT Taskforce is one of three announced by the prime minister in February as part of the government's Innovation Framework. The others are biotech and creative industries -creative industries is further broken down into design industry and screen production.
The taskforce members are Murray McNae, David Bibby, Stephen Harris, John Blackham, Peter Maire, Catherine Calarco, Jenny Morel, Dennis Chapman, Ian McRae, Jim Donovan and Ian Taylor