The New Zealand Government has recently announced a sector-led approach to grow industry innovation and boost productivity, with an early focus on agritech.
This new document charts the challenges and opportunities that the New Zealand economy is responding to.
Acting Economic Development Minister David Parker explained that the flipside of the impact of the technological revolution on the future of work is the huge potential it opens up for businesses and the development of high-skilled, higher paying jobs.
Growing innovative industries
Growing innovative industries is a key focus of the Government’s broader economic strategy.
For instance, the new Industry Transformation Plans, which is an idea that they borrowed from Singapore, will maximise the opportunities offered by the fourth industrial revolution.
Additionally, it will help move towards a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy.
The agritech sector has been chosen as a key focus because it brings together two of New Zealand’s key competitive advantages.
These advantages are the expertise in agriculture and horticulture coupled with a well-educated workforce.
According to him, the Government will not be starting from scratch. Acknowledgement should be given to the efforts of past governments.
These efforts include the 2001 Knowledge Wave conference and the Growth and Innovation Framework to reforms in the telecom sector and the roll out of ultrafast broadband.
They all helped build the platform for success in the digital age.
Boosting productivity is the key
New Zealand has a strong economic foundation with low unemployment, government surpluses and low inflation. However, the productivity is lagging.
Sustainably boosting productivity is the key to raise the living standards of all New Zealanders. This can be done by creating more from the available resources while staying within environmental limits.
New Zealand needs to move from volume to value in sectors like agriculture.
Focusing on Agritech
Agritech is an excellent example of where New Zealand can make big strides. Strategy work is already well underway.
The Minister urged the agritech sector, innovators and workers by calling them to action.
They should bring their ideas to help develop, in partnership with government, the draft agritech Industry Transformation Plan.
Plans for this and other focus sectors such as forestry, food and beverage, and digital technology are expected to be implemented from 2020.
The aforementioned are the initial priority sectors. However, this could be expanded over time into other areas such as creative industries, tourism, aerospace, health technologies and renewable energy.
Industry Transformation Plans will be sector-led and government supported. They will involve partnership between government, business, workers and Māori.
Boosting productivity, including redirecting investment towards more productive sectors, is crucial if New Zealand is to lift the standard of living of all Kiwis, and this will be a key initiative for achieving this.