Launch of Ministry of Science and Innovation

  • Wayne Mapp
Science and Innovation


Today’s launch of the Ministry of Science and Innovation is the latest step in the most intense development of our science strategy in the last 20 years.

When this Government came into office, we knew that New Zealand needed to get more out of our science and innovation system. 

The system was overly complex and bureaucratic.  The ties between research organisations and the users of the research, such as business, needed strengthening.  Businesses were not investing enough in research and development compared to other developed nations.

This Government has a strong focus on economic growth. As the Prime Minister has said, investing in science and innovation is a vital foundation of our economic strategy, which is the only way to deliver the future we want for our people and our country.

To achieve this goal, we have undertaken a comprehensive upgrade of our innovation ecosystem.

We started off by backing basic research.  In Budget 2009 we invested more in the Marsden Fund, in core funding for CRIs and health research.

We also set new, clearer priorities for our investment and introduced the Primary Growth Partnership to support the primary sector. The appointment of Professor Sir Peter Gluckman as the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor and the introduction of the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes have raised the profile and prestige of science in the community.  

In 2010 the Budget’s focus was on increasing investment in business R&D.  We introduced the Technology Development Grants and Technology Transfer Vouchers, and overall increased Government support by $234 million over four years.

We gave the Crown Research Institutes a new sense of drive and purpose. Their goal is to connect with their sectors and ensure that their R&D is fully utilised for New Zealand’s wider benefit.

The new Ministry of Science and Innovation has been created through merging the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

Why is this important? In the first place, it means a simpler, more efficient system.  This will make it easier for scientists and users to work with the Government.

It will act as a far more effective bridge between science and industry. This will help bring together researchers, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and financiers – all of whom are needed to turn good ideas into export successes.

It will ensure that policy and funding are linked rather than separated.

Above all, MSI will lead the Government’s drive to get the most out of science and innovation, by harnessing scientific and innovative capability across the business, science and government sectors.

Building those connections is the focus for 2011.  New Zealand needs all the key players in science and innovation to work together to achieve our goals.

We have many brilliant minds in our research organisations coming up with excellent ideas. Forexample, last week I saw some of the amazing work being done in Antarctica.

We also have world-leading innovative companies in New Zealand.

Today you can see outstanding examples of new ideas, products and research from both business and our research organisations here in the innovation showcase outside this room.

If we can effectively link ideas like these with market savvy and business flair, we have all the elements we need to become leading high-tech niche manufacturers for the global marketplace, especially in Asia.

A new Ministry by itself will not transform the economy. What it will do is act as a catalyst and support for those ideas and people that will transform the economy. By creating a Ministry which spans both science and innovation, it shows the Government’s intent to place science at the forefront of New Zealand’s future.

I will now hand you over to the new Ministry’s chief executive, Murray Bain, who will talk in more detail about what the Ministry will do.

Thank you.