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NZ on an innovation flatline?

NZ on an innovation flatline?

Overall rate of innovation has virtually stood still for almost a decade.

A research paper on New Zealand’s innovation performance from 1998 to 2008 reveals that while some industry sectors have performed reasonably well; the country’s overall rate of innovation has remained virtually flat for nearly a decade. The report, Innovation Index of New Zealand, reveals that after rising by 13 percent between 1998 and 2000, the whole-of-economy index was flat for the next seven years.

IBM New Zealand has developed the index with the University of Auckland in preparing this inaugural report and the figures in it will now be updated every two years.

Jennifer Moxon, IBM New Zealand managing director, says a flat innovation situation is a cause for concern given that role it plays in economic prosperity.

Moxon says it is not just the government’s responsibility to lift the innovation index but “requires an ecosystem” – referring to a partnership that cuts across industries and other sectors.

The innovation index is a summary of the rate of innovative activity among organisations in New Zealand.

The research looks at innovation across the whole economy, including 16 sectors, covering both commercial and non-commercial organisations.

The index examines seven components of innovation: research and development; patenting; plant variety rights; trademarking, design registration; productivity; and organisation, managerial and marketing reforms.

Moxon says while the formula utilised to come up with the index is “not perfect”; the seven components do a good job in capturing innovation activity within an organisation.

The survey will be bi-annual and aims to answer whether New Zealand is “getting better, worse or just standing still” when it comes to innovation activity.

Dougal Watt, chief technologist, IBM New Zealand, says the news “is not all bad” as he cites agriculture, forestry and fishing as having the strongest, consistent performance in the index.

Watt says a change in mentality is important in lifting New Zealand’s score. “We tend to think inward, the DIY mentality, and not look at partners outside to innovate [with].”

He says IBM partnerships with New Zealand organisations, for instance, will allow the latter access to some 3000 scientists at IBM. “We need to shift from inward focused to partner focused” when it comes to innovation.

He says recreational services are responsible for a third of New Zealand’s economy. “That’s where we should start”.

Of the sectors showing rise in innovation activity in 2008, the most significant gains were in education (up 11 percent) and government administration and defence (up 6 per cent).

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