Govt urges Kiwi businesses to exploit growth opportunities

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The government is urging Kiwi businesses to take advantage of opportunities to grow their businesses, thanks to significant progress in building innovation in New Zealand.

According to the government, the Business Growth Agenda is helping Kiwis build a productive and competitive economy to deliver more jobs and higher growth for people across the country.

Released by Finance Minister Bill English and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, the 2013 Progress Report on the Business Growth Agenda focuses on key inputs businesses need to succeed, grow and add jobs: export markets, capital markets, innovation, skilled and safe workplaces, natural resources, and infrastructure.

“New Zealand is one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD this year,” English says.

“Business and consumer confidence levels are high, with wages and household incomes growing. The government is on track to return to surplus by 2014/15.”

New Zealand’s regions have lifted the country out of the global financial crisis according to the report, with the whole of the South Island having lower unemployment than Auckland, while growth rates are strong in regions such as Taranaki, the West Coast, and Canterbury.

“The BGA is all about creating the conditions for businesses to invest for jobs and growth, and for regions to take advantage of the enormous opportunities available to them,” says Joyce, who says significant progress has been made in building innovation in New Zealand.

“New Zealand has some fantastic innovative firms that are taking on the world – and we want to see more of them.

“We’ve established Callaghan Innovation, a new hi-tech HQ for Kiwi businesses.

“Business expenditure on research and development has risen by 23 per cent in the last two years to $1.2 billion, driven by the Government’s increased investment in R&D Growth Grants and R&D Project Grants.

“In the last week the Prime Minister announced $31 million over four years for repayable funding for start-ups.”

But to succeed internationally, Joyce says New Zealand firms need access to skilled people.

“Our tertiary system delivered a record number of qualifications in 2012, with the number of domestic students completing a bachelors degree up 23 per cent in two years,” he adds.

“We’ve reformed industry training to focus on quality and results, and our apprenticeship reboot has got off to a great start with more than 8,000 trainees signing up since March, 67 per cent up on the same period last year.

“And we’re making the most significant reforms to our workplace health and safety system in 20 years.”

Kiwi Innovation:

• The establishment of Callaghan Innovation, a new hi-tech HQ for New Zealand business

• $566 million over four years (an increase of $98 million in Budget 2013) for Callaghan R&D grants

• $31 million for repayable funding for start-up technology companies, distributed by new private-sector led technology incubators

• The passing of the Patents Act

• Progress on innovation infrastructure, including Ultra-Fast broadband, and innovation hubs around NZ

• The beginning of consultation on new tax proposals for R&D tax losses

• $2.5 million over five years to increase the productivity of forestry

• $3.5 million for nearly 300 students to work as interns in R&D companies

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