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NZ’s Budget 2019 to boost innovation and emerging tech

Funding decisions announced in New Zealand’s Budget 2019 will result in a boost on innovation, emerging technologies and potentially high-value tech research and start-ups.

As reported, Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand’s Innovation Agency, has received funding for five initiatives.

These five initiatives are:

  1. Gracefield Innovation Quarter
  2. Industry 4.0
  3. Food innovation
  4. Commercialising innovation
  5. Future-proofing industry

Gracefield Innovation Quarter

The redevelopment of the Gracefield site, in Lower Hutt will include NZ$ 51.1 million in capital expenditure and NZ$ 29.3 million in operating expenditure.

It is the main centre for its Research and Technical Services (RTS) teams and labs.

It currently houses 34,000 sq. metres of laboratories, office space, workshops and pilot labs, rapid prototyping facilities, machine shop, a supercritical fluid extraction plant, materials analysis and testing labs, and the Measurement Standards Laboratory.

The initial focus will be on remediation including seismic improvements, asbestos removal, roof, and weather tightness.

However, the funding will also help the Agency deliver on its vision for the precinct: the Gracefield Innovation Quarter (GIQ), which will be a national hub for innovative research and commercial activity.

Through the Gracefield site, the Agency’s RTS teams have extended specialist R&D support services to approximately 270 companies in the last financial year.

Industry 4.0

The establishment of an Industry 4.0 Demonstration Network has been made with the commitment of NZ$ 6.769 million in over four years.

It will also complete the Skills Shift project supported through the Future of Work Tripartite Forum.

Industry 4.0 has already been identified as a priority focus for the Agency.

By applying digital technologies to deliver smarter, more efficient manufacturing processes, Industry 4.0 has the potential to improve productivity and global competitiveness.

The Demonstration Network, meanwhile, will play a vital role in allowing NZ manufacturers to experience these technologies in a real factory environment.

They can do this by learning from those who have gone through the adoption process and increase industry understanding and uptake of these important technologies.

Food innovation

NZ$ 9.57 million in over two years was promised to the New Zealand Food Innovation Network as support for innovative, high-value food products and related technologies.

NZFIN is a national network of food processing pilot plants and hubs that provide the facilities and knowledge needed to commercialise new products and processes.

Commercialising innovation

A package of initiatives to support the commercialisation of innovation in New Zealand has been allocated NZ$ 25.5 million, with the focus on scaling up existing, proven programmes.

These programmes include the Commercialisation Partner Network Fund, the PreSeed Accelerator Fund, and the Technology Incubator programme.

The funding aims to increase the impact of public investment in research and science as well as develop more effective pathways to translate research into functional applications that deliver market opportunities and advantages.

The Agency is responsible for the delivery of the Technology Incubator programme and support for start-up businesses.

The scaled up Technology Incubator programme and additional funding will be used to provide more operational funding to Technology Incubators.

It will also increase the pool of funding for Repayable Grants, which means more businesses can be supported.

Future-proofing industry

Government has allocated NZ$ 18 million in over four years to continue the Product Accelerator and Bioresource Processing Alliance programmes.

There were previously funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) former “Enabling Technologies” funding mechanism.

The Product Accelerator helps connect industry with research expertise, solving industry problems, building productivity and supporting the transformation of the economy through diversification and improving its knowledge intensity.

The BioResource Processing Alliance, on the other hand, helps convert low value primary industry and other biological waste streams into high-value export goods, reducing waste and increasing New Zealand’s exports in general.

Callaghan Innovation will become the agency responsible for delivery of both programmes through the RTS teams.

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