Lower Hutt to retain technology centre
Lower Hutt's Mayor has welcomed confirmation that a new Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) will have a base in the city.
"We have worked hard to reinforce the importance of retaining Lower Hutt as a centre for business innovation and science," Ray Wallace said.
"We are relieved and happy with the decision which will see Industrial Research Limited as an integral part of the new ATI. We are confident there will be opportunities for local initiatives including establishment of a centre for encouraging and mentoring enterprises based on science and innovation."
Mayor Wallace was recently briefed by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce about the changes.
"Minister Joyce is to be congratulated for acknowledging the voice of the Council and Lower Hutt residents by making the decision to locate the new ATI here in Lower Hutt,"
However PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said IRL staff would be left in limbo by the move.
The transition means a lot of uncertainty for staff, with the long-term viability of the role of Industrial Research still not clear.
"Staff are still none the wiser about how they will fit into the new organisation, what their role will be and whether the work they do will be valued in this new environment."
Last year there were fears that that 350 science jobs would be lost to the Wellington region if IRL was moved from the Hutt Valley.
However those were allayed by the "Powering Innovation" report made public in November.
The report said New Zealand's high-value manufacturing and services sector was "underdeveloped" and fragmented.
The ATI was a key recommendation of the report.
Mr Joyce said the new Advanced Technology Institute would become a high-tech base for innovative New Zealand businesses
"The ATI will have operations in Auckland, the Hutt Valley and Christchurch. It will help high-tech firms become more competitive by better connecting them with innovation expertise and facilities that exist both within the ATI and across New Zealand's Crown Research Institutes, universities, polytechnics, and other research organisations."
The ATI's key aims were to build the number of firms carrying out research and development, while boosting the commercial capability of the science sector.
It also hoped to improve the flow of knowledge, technology and skilled people between businesses and research organisations.
The Government allocated $166 million over four years for the ATI, as part of Budget 2012.
The Government was mindful decisions relating to the future of IRL staff and assets needed to be made as soon as possible by the Establishment Board, Mr Joyce said.
"Until the ATI is operational, IRL will continue as usual, while its board works closely with the ATI Establishment Board and MBIE to ensure a smooth transition of the staff and assets that will be absorbed by the new institute."
The Dominion Post