Technology Transfer Vouchers go the way of the dinosaurs

By Peter Kerr 13/06/2013

Dave Guerin runs a blog and a paid subscription model for Education Insider – essentially an education everything at the tertiary and beyond level.

He keeps a super-close eye on legislation, comings and goings, controversy…..and government budget announcements.

Dave reads the fine print – the following is his delving among the entrails – and makes some excellent observations. (Thanks Dave)

    • We noted Steven Joyce’s changes to business R&D grants in our Budget analysis, but we always meant to come back and look at the details. It was good that we did, because we missed the major change – the abolition of Technology Transfer Vouchers. The Vouchers directed (usually smaller) firms into working with research organisations on projects (accredited partners included 8 universities and 2 ITPs). The Government offered matching funding to firms.
    • The Vouchers did not have a fast or high uptake and seem to have become a casualty of their relative lack of success. They were introduced in the 2010 Budget and the first voucher was announced in December 2010. $5m was to be granted each year for a total of $20m over four years, but by Aug 2012 only $4m had been given out in 39 grants, by which time $11.25m had been budgeted. The original $100,000 requirement from businesses was dropped to $30,000, but uptake has not been sufficient to retain the Vouchers.
    • While the removal of Vouchers is understandable from a Government view, it does remove one of the few initiatives to encourage interaction between small firms and research organisations. The final design of the R&D Project Grants might address that gap (as might Callaghan Innovation’s future facilitation activities), but it seems that an opportunity has been missed, without any immediate alternative.

Key Facts

  • Steven Joyce announced three new business R&D grants on Budget day, saying that they “replace the previous Technology Development Grants, TechNZ Project Grants, TechNZ Capability Grants, and Technology Transfer Vouchers.”
  • Technology Transfer Vouchers will end. We missed the brief reference in Joyce’s media release on Budget day, but we have confirmed the situation with Callaghan Innovation.
  • R&D Growth Grants replaced the previous Technology Development Grant – key changes are noted below.
  • Businesses with a minimum of $300k of R&D spending in NZ, and at least 1.5% of revenue spent on R&D over last 2 years will be eligible (used to be 3% of revenue over past 3 years, plus at least $3m revenues).
  • After two years of funding, businesses can be re-assessed for a further three years funding.
  • The cap on funding per annum will increase to $5 million (was $2.4 million).
  • Most of the subjective judgement associated with receiving a grant has been removed
  • R&D Student Grants are being retained from the previous TechNZ Capability Grants. They will provide support for undergraduate and postgraduate students to work within R&D active businesses. These were part of the previous TechNZ Capability Grants.
  • R&D Project Grants replaced the TechNZ Project Grants – key changes are noted below.
  • Project grants are targeted at firms with smaller R&D programmes and those that are new to R&D.
  • Project grants will typically provide 30-50 per cent public co-funding (was 50%).
  • Project grants will be repayable under certain circumstances – particularly if a business shifts its R&D activity offshore (this is new).

Previous sticK stories about the Tech Transfer Vouchers can be found here, and here.