Government unveils roadmap for digitally-driven economy growth

Roadmap identifies initial priority sectors for developing industry transformation plans

The Government has launched a new approach to industry policy that it says is designed to grow more innovative industries in New Zealand and lift the productivity of key sectors. It puts the initial focus on agritech.

The roadmap is set out in Growing innovative industries in New Zealand: From the knowledge wave to the digital age, which “outlines the new strategic direction for industry policy and charts the challenges and opportunities the New Zealand economy is responding to.”

Minister for Economic Development David Parker said the industry transformation plans in the document were based on ideas borrowed from Singapore and would maximise the opportunities offered by the fourth industrial revolution and help move towards a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy.

The document identifies initial priority sectors for developing industry transformation plans as: agritech, digital technologies, food and beverage, and forestry and wood processing. Plans for the priority sectors are expected to be implemented from 2020.

The report said the list could be expanded into areas such as creative industries, tourism, aerospace, health technologies and renewable energy.

Parker said New Zealand needed to move from volume to value in sectors like agriculture and urged the agritech sector, innovators and workers to bring their ideas to help develop, in partnership with government, a draft agritech industry transformation plan.

He said agritech had been chosen as a key focus area “because it brings together two of New Zealand’s key competitive advantages – our expertise in agriculture and horticulture with our well-educated workforce.”

The Government says it is committed to working with its partners to grow more innovative industries.

“Boosting productivity, including redirecting investment towards more productive sectors, is crucial if New Zealand is to lift the standard of living of all Kiwis, and this will be a key initiative for achieving this.”

The report says the Industry Transformation Plan for the digital technology sector will “bring together the sector’s diverse strands of work into a coherent strategy to ensure New Zealand business are well placed to take advantage of rapid advances in technology, including through having access to the tech talent necessary to support growth in New Zealand’s ICT export industry.”

Digital technology opportunities

It says there are opportunities within the digital sector itself for more coordinated action between the government and industry. It lists these as the government:

- continuing to work with the IoT Alliance and the AI Forum to drive uptake of digital technologies;

- implementing the Industry 4.0 Demonstration Network programme to increase uptake of Industry 4.0 technologies and processes across manufacturing sectors, improving productivity and competitiveness, with budget funding of $6 million over four years;

- coordinating, developing and rolling out a National Digital Infrastructure Model to generate value from data for all aspects of the economy – eg infrastructure management and development;

- supporting New Zealand digital technology firms by providing a level playing field for New Zealand firms to compete for government business;

- working through the Digital Skills Forum to ensure the digital technology sector, and the industries that rely on digital technology workers, can access the tech talent needed to support the growth of these sectors and the economy more generally.

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