First Science System Performance Report released

  • Steven Joyce
Science and Innovation

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today released the 2016 Science and Innovation System Performance Report, the first of an annual series which presents data on the research outputs, impacts, funding, and overall performance of science and innovation in New Zealand.

“This report provides us with a performance benchmark against other OECD countries including the other small advanced economies – Israel, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, Ireland and Denmark,” Mr Joyce says.

“The report increases transparency by showing how public funding for science and innovation is being invested, and it begins to give a direct line-of-sight to the benefits that funding brings for the New Zealand economy, environment and society.”

Key findings from the 2016 Science and Innovation System Performance Report include:

  • New Zealand’s research sector is relatively small for the size of the economy, but relatively efficient in terms of research outputs (i.e. scientific publications) produced per research dollar.
  • Total expenditure on R&D across the economy has grown significantly in real terms since 2000 (by 77 per cent).
  • New Zealand firms still report relatively low levels of R&D and innovation. Progress is slow but steady towards the specific NSSI goal of business R&D of over 1 per cent of GDP.
  • On indicators of research quality we do better than the OECD average, but worse than other Small Advanced Economies and Australia.
  • The report identifies that we have niche expertise in Physics and Astronomy, Engineering, Energy and Computer Science, although these are areas where we do relatively little research.
  • New Zealand has strong international science links – international collaboration is seen in over 50 per cent of science papers published, and this is growing. Top collaborating partner countries are the US, Australia and the UK.
  • New Zealand produces relatively fewer graduates in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) than other Small Advanced Economies. However the numbers of graduates in these areas are going, and we successfully attract significantly more qualified scientists, and technology and engineering professionals to New Zealand than leave each year (net inward migration of these professionals was over 2000 in 2015).

The report includes examples of the impacts of different scientific developments in New Zealand, who was involved, how they were funded, and the results that occurred. Future reports will provide more comprehensive assessment of science impacts to give a robust picture of the overall benefits of science investment.

The National Statement of Science Investment (NSSI), published in 2015, set out the Government’s vision for 2025: “A highly dynamic science system that enriches New Zealand, making a more visible, measurable contribution to our productivity and wellbeing through excellent science”.

The NSSI committed to publishing regular system performance reports. This annual report will track progress against NSSI goals and become a valuable evidence base to inform government policy decisions and longer-term strategy. It includes information on R&D activity across the government, higher-education and private sectors.

“Achieving the NSSI vision will require reliable, timely information and robust evaluation of science and innovation system performance,” Mr Joyce says.

“This government invested $410.5 million new funding in science and innovation over four years through Budget 2016. We know that better performance data will enable us to target our growing science investments effectively and to maximise their long-term value to New Zealand.”

This report complements the first Research, Science and Innovation Domain Plan, released by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in September 2016. The domain plan provides a long-term picture of what is required to improve official statistics, data and information in this area, and a coordinated, cross-agency plan for addressing the issues.

The Science and Innovation System Performance Report is available here.