“Game-changing” tech at the heart of Labour’s digital economic upgrade

A Labour government will support the ICT sector to make New Zealand a tech-savvy nation and put ICT at the heart of the country’s economic upgrade strategy.

Among several new initiatives David Cunliffe announced today are plans to establish 1,200 digital apprenticeships and support first-time entrepreneurs with ‘Garage Grants’.

“Technology is a game changer,” Cunliffe says. “We can become a prosperous nation supported by a vibrant IT industry.

“Our focus on investment, innovation and industry will see a digital upgrade to create better jobs that pay higher wages where they are desperately needed.”

To boost innovation, Cunliffe claims the party will work with industry and public science bodies to develop new products and technologies.

“We will also back start-ups with ‘Garage Grants’ which will enable entrepreneurs who want to transform their clever ideas into something big,” he adds.

“To encourage investment we will provide tax deferrals in the form of accelerated depreciation to ICT manufacturers and research and development tax incentives to encourage investment in new technology and plant.

“To support industry development Labour will review the points system for the migration skills shortage list, and we will establish 1,200 digital apprenticeships at a cost of $2.1 million in the first year.

According to Cunliffe, Labour will:

• Create a government-backed app store to assist fledgling New Zealand software developers to get into the market

• Instruct government agencies to implement a whole of government approach to Open Software

• And establish the role of Chief Technology Officer reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Cabinet

“Labour’s Digital Economic Upgrade requires a hands-on government that knows what it takes to get us there and which isn’t afraid to lead, take risks, and enable people,” he adds.

“There will be a further policy announcement in the future on digital infrastructure and connectivity.”

Labour’s plans follow news that New Zealand’s nationwide network of business incubators is being expanded, with government plans to introduce a new type of technology-focused incubator designed to get more high-growth start-ups off the ground.

The list of incubators approved by the Callaghan Innovation Board includes three of the new technology-focused incubators and five founder-focused incubators, previously known as Business Incubators.

The technology-focused incubators will have access to the pilot repayable grant programme announced in Budget 2013.

“The response from the market has been really positive, with a considerable number of high quality applications from across New Zealand,” said Steven Joyce, Science and Innovation Minister, earlier this week.

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