$4.5M Extra To Be Invested Into Technology

  • Maurice Williamson
Research, Science and Technology

The Government will spend an extra $4.5 million to enable New Zealand companies to take advantage of developing
technology. This amount is in addition to existing funding for technology initiatives of approximately $11.2 million.

Maurice Williamson, Minister of Research, Science and Technology says he is determined that local companies will have better information about technology, and better awareness of technology-based opportunities for their business.

Mr Williamson says he also want locals to have better access to research and technology services, both here and overseas. The Minister says the Government decided this after considering a report presented to it by a Technological Innovation Working Group.

While the research and science elements of his portfolio have had a good deal of attention lately, Mr Williamson says the technology element has been somewhat neglected.

Technology policy needs to work with local firms to arm them with good skills, good information, and good networks and then let them get on with it. We are not in the business of distorting behaviour through subsidies or tax incentives. The working group has recognised this, and come up with appropriate proposals.

The Ministry of Research, Science and Technology will develop the details for a set of complementary programmes which will start in July 1997. The programmes will meet the needs of all kinds of companies, whether they are small and low-tech or large and high-tech.

Examples of the kinds of activities that will be funded are Internet-based technology information services, assessments of firms technology opportunities, technology management seminars and networking opportunities for firms with similar strategic interests, and collaborative research and technology development projects. These projects may include secondments of technologists and engineers into companies.

The programmes will include an expanded version of the existing Technology for Business Growth programme, making it more accessible to a wider range of firms. New funding of around $4.5 million will be invested in the technology programmes, bringing total funding for these kinds of initiatives to about $15 million.

The Government says the Public Good Science Fund (PGSF), amounting to almost $270 million, should be managed by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology in a way that maximises the adoption and application of PGSF results by users, without at the same time diminishing the incentives for, or displacing private sector investment.

This is to ensure that research institutions such as Crown Research Institutes and universities are encouraged to form strong links with New Zealand enterprises, so that best use is made of the results and implications of their work.