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Though he’s loathed to call it a ‘one-stop-shop’, NZ Institute director Rick Boven reckons something similar is required as one measure to boost this country’s innovation rate and output.

The institute recent discussion paper ‘Plugging the Gaps – An internationalisation strategy’, suggested as one of its 14 policy directions that an “Information Clearinghouse” be established in New Zealand.

Boven says NZTE has a website that provides some of the functions he envisages such a clearinghouse could have.

However, “at the moment, if you want to find out something, it’s mostly about connections and word of mouth,” he says.

“We need to provide a venue for people to make offers, look for answers and make those connections.”

He says one example is open innovation, where seekers (or those with a challenge or problem) and solvers (someone with an answer), can be put together.

“You could be working in a lab, have a particular thing you need answered, put it up there, and low and behold, you have a solution,” he says. Such a clearinghouse would work for both the research and development side of things, as well as commercialisation.

Boven says he often meets overseas-based people who would like to help innovating New Zealand businesses; and while there are a number of different forums, “there’s no, one, dominant place for them to go.”

He provides an aligned example, where the ability to find a skill would be extremely useful.

“We’re looking for a chairman for one of our companies,” he says. “How do you go about that?”

The ability to put such a request up on a website, and for those who are interested to then be able to get in contact is a facility which would be extremely useful Boven says.

He is agnostic as to whether such a clearinghouse would or should be government or privately run but makes the point that it would need to have a service purpose and not just a commercial purpose. It might even be an NGO he says.

“What you really want is something and some way for people to very easily to be able to make connections,” he says.

For the record, and taken from the ‘Plugging the Gaps’ document, a single utility information clearinghouse should be the preferred service provider or access point for:
• Access to public good information such as standard solutions
• A directory of expertise, providers and advisors in science, engineering and commercialisation
• Problem solving forums in research, development, business development and internationalisation
• Provision of useful research findings to commercialisation providers and businesses
• Matching of entrepreneurs with business opportunities
• Matching of investors with investment opportunities
• Matching of specialist staff with employment opportunities
• Connections to New Zealand networks overseas, and
• Connections to relevant international solution and resource providers

Which sticK reckons would very much be a ‘one-stop-shop’ in the New Zealand innovation context…..but we won’t call it that!