IT initiatives have received a further budget boost, with an extra million dollars for the government’s support programme for business incubators.
The move, though overshadowed by the Venture Capital Fund announcement, has also been welcomed by IT and business leaders.
Though just two months old, the incubator programme’s funding will increase from $0.6 million to $1.8 million a year.
ITANZ chief executive Jim O’Neill says incubators help at the seed level of innovation and entrepreneurship and boost abilities to raise venture capital.
“It’s the perfect way of getting New Zealanders at a very early stage into running their own businesses,” he says.
Simon Carslow, chief executive of Business New Zealand also called the incubator move “a positive development”, saying it would help fuel essential economic growth.
Incubators typically provide workspace and support services for entrepreneurs and new businesses at the start-up and early stages of development.
Examples include Unitec's Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Massey University's Albany campus incubator, Victoria University's Innovation Greenhouse, the Canterbury Innovation Incubator and Otago University's Innovation Centre.
The Incubator Support Programme, delivered through Industry New Zealand, comprises a management support service and annual cash awards for incubators adopting best practice programmes and processes.
Small Business Minister Pete Hodgson says budget funding raises the 2000-01 awards pool by $400,000 to $950,000 and increases the total funding from 2001-02 onward by $1.2 million to $1.8 million. From 2001-02 the awards will total $1.5 million, with the remaining $350,000 covering administration and a national Incubator Network service.
"Stimulating economic growth and supporting innovation are key goals for the Government. Incubators are relatively new to New Zealand but they have excellent potential to improve the growth and survival rates of new companies.
By supporting their development and improvement, the Government can play a part in the creation of dynamic new companies and new jobs," he says.