Government eyes shake-up of innovation funding

Technology Minister Pete Hodgson is planning a revamp of government funding for innovation in New Zealand - but extra cash is unlikely in the impending Budget.

Technology Minister Pete Hodgson is planning a revamp of government funding for innovation in New Zealand.

However, a spokesman says extra cash is unlikely in the impending Budget, which he described as “tight.”

The review follows a Ministry of Research Science and Technology evaluation of Technology New Zealand and its programmes.

The evaluation found the agency is meeting its objectives in helping firms invest in R&D and expand their businesses.

Since 1995, TechNZ has invested almost $93 million in over 1500 New Zealand businesses.

“The managers of those businesses estimate that TechNZ has been directly responsible for increasing their turnover by $335 million and creating 2134 new jobs for New Zealanders,” says Hodgson.

The report “Evaluation of Technology New Zealand” says Tech NZ is also helping firms improve their skills in managing projects and building stronger links between companies and research providers.

TechNZ is administered by the Foundation of Research, Science and Technology, with funding totalling $36.5 million this year.

Firms can get support in to help develop technology strategies, carry out R&D and technology projects, access expert advice and second graduates, expert scientists and technologists fdor their organisations.

However, the evaluation also found the application process time-consuming, though well-run, a complaint expressed by some IT firms this month to Computerworld.

“This is an area we can work on while making sure we still have robust processes needed for public accountability,” says Hodgson.

The evaluation also revealed the number of projects funded has risen from 100 a year to more than 700.

“With demand for the scheme increasing, we need to look at ways to extend the reach of the scheme. Over the next year we will be exploring the feasibility of introducing repayable grants or loans into the mix of investment options for TechNZ,” the minister says.

The full report is available here.

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