You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Government beefs up funding for R&D

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/05/2017 Rebecca Howard

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has announced the government is beefing up its support for Callaghan Innovation's research and development growth grants to meet growing demand.

Mr Goldsmith announced an additional $74.6 million in funding through the Innovative New Zealand programme in Budget 2017.

The additional funding means a total of $657.2m is now available over four years through the Growth Grants programme, he said at a presentation at ASX-listed Volpara Health Technologies, a Wellington-based company that develops digital health solutions for breast cancer screening.

"The government is continuing to make a major investment in support of business R&D in New Zealand," he said.

"What we are trying to achieve is to help New Zealand businesses be more competitive internationally," he said.

The end goal is to encourage businesses to invest more in R&D to ensure greater resilience and diversity, he said.

Recent data from Statistics New Zealand showed that total R&D as a proportion of gross domestic product increased to 1.3 per cent in 2016, up from 1.2 per cent in 2014.

While New Zealand lags the OECD average - which is 2.4 per cent - Mr Goldsmith downplayed any suggestion the government isn't doing enough.

"The government has been very active in this space and we have consistently raised our investment in R&D and it sends a signal that over the next few years businesses can have the confidence to invest.''

Volpara chief executive Ralph Highnam said that Callaghan is a key reason why the company opted to set up shop in Wellington.

"It's our engineering and R&D hub," he said.

Among other things, the company's software for analysing mammograms measures breast density, a key indicator in early breast cancer detection.

The software is now being used in 35 countries and Mr Highnam said Callaghan was instrumental in moving the company from onsite software onto cloud-based software, which is now reaping a commercial benefit.

Callaghan funding - through career grants - enabled them to have access to PhD students, who were subsequently hired, he said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon