Research and Development by 2025The New Zealand government has a national science plan to take effect by the year 2025. This 10-year plan is about spending more on direct research grants for businesses. The target of this plan is to double private research and development spending over the next 10 years.

However feedback from the business community appears half-hearted on this type of spending as in general they would rather receive tax breaks.

The plan was launched at Royal Society of New Zealand in Wellington by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce. Minister Joyce made a commitment at the launch to raise the government's spending on research and development (R&D) which is presently at 0.65 percent, to 0.8 percent of gross domestic product. This percentage is considered particularly low compared to other economies which are also small and advanced. 

According to the document, the aspirational goal of the government is to raise the R&D percentage of GDP to 1 percent by the year 2025. The well-being of the private sector's R&D will improve if the productivity of New Zealand is boosted.

Callaghan Innovation, which is tasked with increasing the growth of high value manufacturing and services, will administer the increase in funds for business growth grants. Through the Marsden Fund, they are also considering a boost to pure scientific research by the private sector.

There will be a merger of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) bridge funding between the pure and commercial sciences. It will become a single fund from the six existing sector-specific funds which will be combined as one portfolio.

According to the document, a single fund will enable greater predictability of opportunity. Scientists will be able to bid every year even if the money is not yet available from their particular field's expiring contracts. They will not have to waste time in waiting for the payment to come before they start.

In relation to the draft statement of submissions, the Callaghan funding agency has drawn mostly negative submissions on the way they manage the funds. There are issues on the lack of connection between the Crown entity and industry. Also, there is a deficiency of R&D business incentives like tax breaks, which can encourage industry co-investment.

According to Minister Joyce, the increased investment comes with a need for greater accountability even if the commitments made are accurate. "Regular comprehensive sector-wide evaluation of how different parts of our science system are succeeding will help us move beyond our own, by necessity, subjective views of what should be funded next, to dare I say it, a more science-based approach to funding our science system, he also said.

The R&D funds are focused more on low-risk projects which are currently considered to have more certain short-term impact, as per the document. The government wants to have better administration of the risk in its portfolio with a lucid role as an investor. Checking on the introduction of regional research institutes and review of the funding of Crown Research Institutes and the Health Research Council are among the other proposals.

If you have any questions or need assistance on future investment relating to R&D you may contact us or request an appointment online.

References:
Mcbeth, P. (2015, October 5). Government science plan seeks to double private sector R&D by 2025. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/nz-government-science-plan-seeks-double-private-sector-rd-2025-b-179662 

National Statement of Science Investment 2015-2025. (2015, October 1). Retrieved October 7, 2015, from http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/science-innovation/pdf-library/NSSI Final Document 2015.pdf