Neglect puts Innovation and Scientific Research in jeopardy

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Dr Parmjeet Parmar

National has a proven track record of supporting New Zealand’s best researchers and industries in delivering research and innovation that leads to transformative benefits to futureproof our economy.

Coming from a scientific background, it is an absolute privilege and honour for me to be the Spokesperson for Research, Science and Innovation and Associate Spokesperson for Economic Development.

Unique scientific environment

New Zealand’s scientific environment is unique as it is a fast-growing knowledge- intense environment. New Zealand is also unique in terms of its geographical location which makes it even more important for us to embrace opportunities and spur innovation to remain an attractive country to the world to make commercial gains to support not just more jobs but also higher paying jobs and overall prosperity of our nation.

As most of our businesses are small businesses, relatively only a few have been heavy investors in research and development. Access to a strong and vibrant domestic science and technology sector is one way to help New Zealand firms to grow into larger, more sophisticated businesses.

National knows that while investment in research and development is vital, it is sadly also seen to be a high-risk area of investment.

Incentives essential

We believe government has a very important role in incentivising businesses to invest more in research and development.

We have some New Zealand businesses that would routinely invest in research and development to hold onto their market share but, what will take us to the next level is increased investment and commitment towards research and development to support the development of new products and ideas to compete in this ever-changing world.

We strongly believe that, along with the incentives to invest more, the government’s job is also to provide certainty to businesses and investors.

Unfortunately, the current Labour government has failed to do so.

Government neglects sector

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has estimated that business expenditure on research and development should increase by 10% per year and government expenditure by $150 million per year to meet the target of increasing spending on research and development to 2% of GDP by 2027.

The current government has failed to provide for this in their very second budget – Budget 2019, which will result in more pressure on future budgets.

On top of this, business confidence has sharply declined under this government, which in turn has adverse effects on business investment in research and development.

If the government does not keep up with its own commitment as they have not in their very second budget, businesses will feel even less confident investing in research and development.

Uncertainty destroys initiatives

Uncertainty also comes from chopping and changing of policies to suit political agendas for example, instead of building on the success of Growth Grants which were started-up by the previous National government to support businesses invest in research and development, the current government has decided to discontinue them.

Our scientific community and innovative business sector deserves better.

National will create an environment where business confidence is increasing and more New Zealand businesses are comfortable investing more in research and development that will allow them to thrive.

Any research and development leads to real gains only through successful commercialisation of that work.

New Zealand’s small businesses struggle to commercialise what research they do undertake and we are focused on improving policy settings in this area too while incentivising and providing certainty to the sector.

While we are focused on supporting businesses invest more in research and development, it is also important to keep producing world class scientists from our universities.

Better tertiary education

National will build on our tertiary education system in this area to support the demand of scientists to support businesses needing the skilled workforce to support their investments in research and development.

National will do this by investing in Science to drive quality research at our universities. We will do this by attracting the best academics from around the world to ensure high quality research and ensure students learn from the best.

National believes that Science is needed not only to support our economy but also to support our environment.

We believe that research and development and adoption of new technologies – including in the field of biotechnology – is going to be key to helping agriculture reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Biotechnology Act review

The current government has dismissed their official’s advice, to act to review New Zealand’s restrictive law that governs biotechnology.

On the other hand, we have already announced that we will review the act governing biotechnology if we are in the position to form the next government in 2020.

Just setting targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or imposing costs on farmers and businesses will not practically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The sector needs tools and biotechnology can be one of those tools.

National is the Party of new ideas, approaches and will find ways of supporting our economy while taking care of our environment. We believe in lifting productivity by intensifying knowledge and by investing in excellence, making investments that will have a real positive impact on our country.

Tribute to Ravin Lal

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Indian Newslink Founder Ravin Lal.

I am sad to learn about his passing away on November 28, 2019.

He will always be remembered on every occasion organised by Indian Newslink – The Lecture Series, Sports, Community, Arts & Culture Awards, Festivals of South India, and the biggest of them all, the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards.

Ravin will also be remembered by all of us, and as the newspaper celebrates its 20th Anniversary, we recall the early months of its inception.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the entire Indian Newslink team.

I have always valued how through hard work, inclusion of different views and voices, and strong links in the community, Indian Newslink has gone from strength to strength.

Dr Parmjeet Parmar is Member of Parliament on National List based in Mount Roskill (Auckland) and the Party’s Spokesperson for Research, Science & Innovation and Associate Spokesperson for Economic Development and Chairperson of Education and Workforce Select Committee

Budget initiatives bring additional $132 million

Through Budget 2019, the Government will invest an additional $132 million of funding over four years for Research, Science and Innovation.

Combined with significant investment in the R&D tax incentive through Budget 2018, this is expected to grow total Government investment by 22% from $1.672 billion in 2018-2019 to $2.047 billion in 2020/21.

Budget 2019 makes it clear that the Government considers investment in Research, Science and Innovation a key part of achieving its priorities to transform the economy and build a productive nation.

These investments are intended to foster innovation that creates social and economic opportunities and improves the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

R&D Tax initiative

Raising economy-wide spending on R&D to 2% of GDP remains a key goal for the Government. Budget 2019 continues to build on the momentum gained by the introduction of the R&D Tax Incentive in April 2019 by investing in expanding and improving existing innovation initiatives.

Budget 2019 also indicates that the Government plans to use the Science system as a lever for achieving the environmental, social and economic outcomes that sit beneath its broader goal to transform the economy.

The $132 million of new operating expenditure allocated to vote Science and Innovation over the next four years includes the following:

$25 million for the redevelopment of the Callaghan Innovation Gracefield Innovation Quarter

$25.5 million for a package of initiatives intended to promote the commercialisation of innovation, including increased support for the Commercialisation Partner Network Fund and the PreSeed Accelerator Fund and scaling up the Technology Incubator programme

$18 million into an Industry Futures (Bioresource Processing Alliance and Product Accelerator) initiative. This funding will allow the continuation of these two programmes. The Product Accelerator helps develop technologies which create new products, new market opportunities and grow New Zealand’s exports. The Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA) co-funds and co-develops innovative products or processes to turn low-value biological waste streams into new high-value products

$10 million into the Innovative Partnerships Programme, which is run by MBIE, and designed to attract globally leading firms and innovators to New Zealand. This programme develops New Zealand’s competitive advantage as a location for R&D investment

$9.57 million to fund the continued operation of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network, while a new, more sustainable funding model is developed

$20 million into advanced energy technologies research. The investment will be delivered through the ‘Advanced Energy Technology Platform’ – a new platform under the Strategic Science Investment Fund

$20.75 million for the development of tools to help manage kauri dieback.

$25 million will be invested in the further development of tools and technologies to transition New Zealand’s agricultural sector to a sustainable, low-carbon future. This investment is comprised of $3.2 million of new operating expenditure and $21.7 million of reprioritised funding.

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

(MBIE website image)

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