Investment and Innovation - An election specialPosted on September 11, 2017 in Intellectual Property , Commercial (Tags: Innovation, Business, Election)
Investment and innovation and new technologies is critical to the economic survival of the lower South Island. Given the challenges to traditional businesses relying on manufacturing and products which need to be transported to target markets, new technologies will enable us to grow a business hub which utilises the wealth of knowledge and talent already based in Dunedin and surrounding areas without facing the challenges that being distant from the target market brings. A few weeeks out from the election, it is useful to look at what each of the major political parties is proposing by way of policies which would benefit the technology and innovation sector. The summary below is taken from each party's own policy statement found on their website and recently their commentary on available policies.
The National Party
The National Party has identified innovation as one of six critical areas in its Business Growth Agenda. The National Party has already increased investment in science and innovation in its 2017 budget, adding $256 million of new funding over four years. It has also invested a further $74.6 million in the 2017 budget to increase the fund for Callaghan Innovation Growth Grants.
The Labour Party
The Labour Party intends to create a young entrepreneurs plan to allow a small number of smart and innovative New Zealanders to cash in their three free years of education for a start-up business grant, training and a business mentor. Any New Zealander aged 18 to 23 can apply for up to $20,000 to start a new business based on an innovative idea. Labour also proposes an increase in public science spending to link New Zealand to the OECD average over time. It also intends to strengthen innovation through a 12.5% R&D tax credit. Most importantly for Dunedin and the lower South Island, Labour intends to set up a Centre of Digital Excellence in Dunedin to build on existing gaming and digital businesses in existing academic centres. This would involve setting up a new Chair of Computer Gaming at Otago University, accelerating existing digital start-ups with an incubator space that includes a motion-capture studio, access to publishing software and mentorship programmes and establishing a funding pool administered by private industry aimed at attracting young talent to the industry with post-school digital pathways and scholarships.
New Zealand First
New Zealand First's policy is predicated on providing greater access to telecommunications infrastructure for all companies in the New Zealand markets. It also proposes through their various funding methods in tertiary education to target graduate and post-graduate students in science and technology fields. It would also provide tax incentives for businesses to engage in research and development leading to innovation and export growth, provide lower cost intellectual property protection for New Zealand-based innovators, provide and encourage venture capital resources for New Zealand innovations and provide assistance in the marketing of new or innovative products.
The Opportunities Party
TOP's taxation policy will encourage productive investment which should see business R&D levels rise over time. In the short term it wants to prime the R&D effort with Government investment. Its focus is to move away from reliance on property to creating new and sustainable ways to make money.
The Green Party
The Greens generally wish to significantly increase total investment in research, science and technology and reduce organisational complexity, transaction costs and overheads associated with funding decisions in research delivery. Their emphasis is on development of ethically acceptable technology through grant schemes, provision of information, financial incentives for the adoption of new technologies and encouraging the use of open source software. They support agricultural and horticultural advancements without patenting of life forms and the development of genetic technologies based on ethical screening. They wish to work with industry to develop a research and design industry to encourage graduates to stay here, and also to improve the availability of venture and seed capital for local software companies.
The Maori Party will provide a priority investment fund for Maori research and development and will promote collaboration between Maori entrepreneurs and scientists and innovators to improve opportunities, jobs and income. The Maori Party will also create and resource a real and virtual incubation hub for Hapu and Iwi to test the economic viability of new ideas on the local and global market and to mentor all researchers.
Act opposes subsidies and grants for R&D. Instead they prefer to cut corporate tax to allow all businesses to keep more of their profits and re-invest in R&D or any other form of innovation.
In summary, the only party which doesn't have any specific policy targeted at increasing investment in the innovation sector is Act which prefers to leave it to the free market by cutting taxes.
Sally Peart is a partner in Marks & Worth Lawyers and IP Specialists and advises businesses on a wide range of commercial and intellectual property law issues.