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New Zealand launches new programme to attract international innovators

The New Zealand Government has launched an Innovative Partnership programme aiming to attract future-focused international innovators and firms to undertake R&D and develop their products in New Zealand.

The Innovative Partnerships programme seeks to engage with innovative companies that are pushing the boundaries of technology and solving the world’s big problems, and promotes the compelling advantages of working in New Zealand.

The programme is led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and multiple agencies across local and central governments are working together to support and facilitate the elements that influence a decision to undertake R&D in New Zealand.

A small team of experts running the programme are dedicated to helping research and development intensive businesses connect, collaborate and innovate in New Zealand. The idea is to connect businesses with the right people, businesses, agencies, research organisations and universities, and also help them navigate central and local governments.

The MBIE website notes that New Zealand has competitive advantages in AgriTech, Digital Technologies, Health Technologies, High Value Nutrition and Space, but Innovative Partnerships isn’t restricted to these areas of strength. MBIE is seeking to discuss transformative technology areas and emerging sectors, as well as emerging challenges for the economy, environment and society.

The official launch of the programme comes after American innovator Kitty Hawk Corporation, operating in New Zealand as Zephyr Airworks, credited Innovative Partnerships as part of the reason it is testing its autonomous air taxi technology in New Zealand.

The company Kitty Hawk is backed by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google and now the chief executive of Google’s parent, Alphabet and it is run by Sebastian Thrun, who helped start Google’s autonomous car unit as one of the founders of Google X. Its fully electric hybrid between a plane and a drone is being tested in New Zealand since October last year. Kitty Hawk is developing an app and technology to enable customers to hail flying taxis as they would an Uber and reports say that there are plans to launch a commercial service within three years.

“International innovators are finding our unique expertise, resources and talent, together with our size and location, offer surprising advantages when it comes to turning ideas into reality. Zephyr Airworks’ presence in New Zealand will build capability in our own science system - partially in areas like software engineering, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, composite material, and aviation design,” said Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

Minister Woods added, “This Government is committed to developing New Zealand as a hub for high-value, knowledge intensive businesses that create value through innovation and R&D.”

“New Zealand has a long history of innovation and being at the front of change. Our future is still being imagined and we are determined to play an active role in shaping it for the better through new ideas, new innovations, and new ways of looking at the world.”

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