Technology trial ends, but no offers

Last updated 05:00 03/12/2012

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The Government is shutting its "Open Door to Innovation" scheme, which was designed to help Kiwi information technology businesses sell bright ideas to the public sector.

An Internal Affairs spokesman said the year-long pilot had not yet resulted in any contracts being awarded to the companies that knocked on the door and pitched 95 ideas to the Government.

Former Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy announced the Open Door to Innovation (ODI) in August last year, saying it would provide a standing invitation to businesses to come up with ideas that would receive careful consideration and feedback.

The scheme promised to be a silver lining for the information technology industry as the Government sought to cut costs by centralising procurement and making more use of shared services.

Paul Ramsay, co-chair of information technology lobby group NZ Rise, said his understanding was the ODI had not had the impact that had been hoped for. "You would have to ask, if it hasn't had the level of uptake and outcomes they had been looking for, why is that? The trouble with some of these programmes is they are not seen in terms of their ‘whole fit' to a broader procurement strategy."

The Internal Affairs spokesman said a review of the ODI scheme had been carried out but he could not release the findings.

Fifty-four of the proposals advanced to the stage where companies were invited to pitch to officials from different departments in Dragon's Den-style meetings and 33 were deemed "valid", he said.

Wellington entrepreneur Clint Van Marrewijk appeared in front of the "dragons" on Thursday to present a hazard-mapping application developed by his start-up, Thundermaps. "Innovation and government don't go that well together. You can see it in their eyes, they want the right things but a businessman looks for opportunity and mitigates the risk; bureaucrats by nature look for the risks and then mitigate the opportunity."

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