'Crucial' that big Kiwi ideas go commercial

Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013
Paul Callaghan
Sir Paul Callaghan

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Callaghan Innovation, the newly modelled successor to Industrial Research, will need to prove itself with results, chairwoman Sue Suckling says.

Crown research institute Industrial Research, with 400-odd nationwide employees, has been joined by about 25 former Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment staff to form the new organisation this month.

The organisation is named after the late Sir Paul Callaghan, who was known for his work promotion of Kiwi science as potential booster for the economy.

At a regional launch on Monday, Callaghan Innovation chairwoman Sue Suckling, of Christchurch, said the launch came at a favourable time.

Recently, New Zealand had topped a series of international reports and studies on everything from personal freedom to business-friendliness, she said.

Callaghan Innovation would act as an adviser and facilitator to firms, making sure they were shown where to find help to overcome problems or made aware of technology when it existed, she said.

It would continue working with firms, as IRL had, but the organisation was the "new kid on the block" and would have to prove itself through results, she said.

New Zealand had many ideas, but they needed to be commercialised before they could be counted as innovation, she said.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce addressed the small breakfast gathering at the Copthorne Hotel Commodore with a pre-recorded video message, as the regional launch clashed with a Cabinet meeting.

It was "a thrill" to bring the Callaghan Innovation organisation to life, Joyce said.

"It's a very important initiative for New Zealand and especially the innovation space."

He was grateful to Callaghan's family for allowing the institute to bear the name of the industry heavyweight.

"I think the name Callaghan Innovation will be a guiding light in that balance between science and commercialisation which is going to be very important as the organisation develops."

The Government has pledged to spend $166 million on the organisation over the next four years, with $90m for expenses and the rest for capital investments.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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