Bright Kiwis urged to reinvent themselves
New Zealand needs to wake up its ideas on innovation or face being left behind, the co-author of a new book on Kiwi ingenuity says.
Comedian Jon Bridges, who co- authored No. 8 Re-Wired with David Downs, said our DIY traditions could be holding us back.
"We're not coming up with stuff. The things you need to do these days to be inventive are different from what they used to be.
"It used to be a guy in a shed thinking differently and challenging authority and making something new - you've got to do more than that these days."
As a country we filed far fewer patents than countries of a similar size, and were making less money from innovation in technology than our peers, Bridges said.
"We think of ourselves as an inventive country and we're celebrating it with this book, but we could be doing a lot better."
Investment in research and development was crucial, but New Zealand also needed to start celebrating its scientists.
"We're not culturally valuing science and research, and because of that we're not putting our money where our mouth is."
No. 8 Re-Wired covers everything from the domestication of deer to the invention of bionic legs, and Bridges said it contained both inspiration and "cautionary tales" of inventors who neglected to patent their work and missed out on billion-dollar industries.
New Zealand could be leading the way, he said, pointing to Kiwi companies such as PowerbyProxi, which was working on wireless power, and LanzaTech, which turned waste into power.
"We could be the centre of this revolution. That's a bit of a blue-sky dream, but these guys are doing it the way it should be done - with research, and IP [intellectual property], and careful collaboration around the world."
The Dominion Post