The New Zealand Innovation Ecosystem Map

By Shaun Hendy 14/04/2011

Ten days ago we released a map of New Zealand’s largest inventor network using Google Earth to geo-locate the inventors in New Zealand. The map revealed some interesting connections between companies and public sector research organisations that at first sight may have seemed unrelated. It also showed that Kiwi inventors are collaborating across the country, with Auckland well connected to the other major centres.

NZ ecosystemThis time I would like to release the full New Zealand map (get it here – you will need Google Earth to open it), which I have decided to call the innovation ecosystem map. It contains all the New Zealand-based inventors from the European Patent Office database, including those in the previous map (note that you can toggle between the previous map and the full map in this file if you wish). It’s obviously a much denser map, and in some ways this makes it much harder to pick out the detail. It does give a very visceral impression on the intensity of inventive activity in and between New Zealand cities.

I have had comments from a number of people about the map:

The NZ Innovation Map clearly shows the extent of research-industry interaction and innovation in the field of technology. This data will be a useful tool for expanding technology networks that communicate new opportunities and provide connections between relevant partners in research, industry and government.

Dr. Peggy Tompkins, The Lighthouse Platform

We are fortunate in the sense that geographical distance is not an inhibiting factor for collaboration in New Zealand. Besides patents, people collaborate and share ideas by attending the same conferences, workshops and seminars — but this map shows we have a great platform to build on and deepen. Seeing our inventor network in this form is a good reminder that New Zealand needs to operate as a single entity if we are going to compete globally.

Lesley Middleton, MSI

We need these perspectives (albeit something of an ICBM’s view of innovation 🙂 ). For example the map highlights that we do manage to collaborate over quite large distances within New Zealand, despite our centres widely dispersed across a geography that is sizable for a 4 Million population.

John Houlker, NZTE

Shaun Coffey, my CEO at Industrial Research Ltd, also had some comments:

In New Zealand there is a wealth of great ideas and innovative companies but collectively we face many disadvantages due to our small size, distance from markets and lack of access to capital. It is widely understood that active management of the innovation ecosystem is critical in small economies like New Zealand but to do this effectively it is important to first have a deep understanding of the nature and complexities of the ecosystem.

In fact, Shaun has provided me with some extra resource (an IRL Fellowship) in order to develop this further. The next version will illustrate our international linkages and then I would like to produce an equivalent map based on companies and organisations. This will be a bit more challenging as we will have to infer these connections by the connections between people. It would also be good to add subject area information.

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