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It was called ‘Inside Innovation’, but Wellington’s policy-peoples’ group hug could have just as easily been called ‘Insider Innovation’.

It was high level stuff, leavened with a presentation by Weta Digital.

Part of the basis of the Tuesday half-day event was an OECD presentation comparing New Zealand to international counterparts – which across most of its metrics found us middling, at best.

It was also a chance to review how much progress had been made on 2007 OECD recommendations on innovation. (ah, 240 pages worth!)

Science Minister Wayne Mapp made the point that since then there has been:
1. A better strategic direction for CRIs
2. More support for basic and applied research
3. Improved support for business R&D
4. A clearer strategy across the innovation interface
5. Improved co-ordination between government agencies

All this is a work in progress; and as such hard to refute.

Mapp’s main contention is that what has occurred on National’s shift is a change in kiwi mindset around innovation and its role in economic growth.

There will be more on some of the OECD’s (latest) NZ findings, but other points pulled from the forum were:

Andrew Clelland – IPENZ (point/question made from the floor)
• The adoption and adaptation of technology is increasingly seen from around the globe; everyone’s borrowing from everyone else. Finland, as an example, has established ‘listening posts’ in global hotspots such as Silicon Valley and St Petersburg

Peter Gluckman – Chief science adviser (said before, but worth repeating)
• NZ’s struggling to lift game from that of a frontier society. An anti-intellectualism means there’s lack of a rigorous debate around a number of important strategic issues
• NZ should develop early stage science/research alliances with other countries
• Intense regional and city parochialism means expertise is diffuse in NZ, with little clustering
• Needs to be more ‘permeability’ allowing clever people to move between academia/business/government
• Should we look to more strategic rather than contestible funding?

Phil O’Reilly – Business New Zealand
• When talking about ‘innovation’ the questions to be asked are “to what purpose, with what future?” It is important that NZ decides how to play in this space rather than just sloganising

John Key – Prime Minister
• We need to be more aggressive about where we think we want to go (from an innovation and economic point of view)