INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government Gets It Right Says Hi-Tech Leaders

Published: Wed 18 Aug 1999 03:25 PM
The NZ Intellectual Capital Foundation (NZInC), responsible for developing the initial strategy of the Government's Bright Future Programme, is delighted with today's announcement of thirty initiatives that will enable New Zealand to compete with other technologically advanced countries around the world.
"The Government has provided us with the opportunity and direction necessary to build a US style `industrial powerhouse' in the South Pacific", says NZInC Marketing Director, Vivienne Feijen. "The New Zealand hi-tech sector now has the infrastructure, resources and incentives in place to mirror the success of US entrepreneurial business creation (which has launched giants such as Microsoft and Intel)."
NZInC sees the key to the success of the programme being the ability of the eight new groups to collaborate and cohesively execute the broad ranging initiatives that have been announced today. "The Government needs to attract passionate, talented individuals on to the Innovate New Zealand Council if this venture is to succeed", says Ms Feijen.
NZInC was formed by eight, individually successful, leaders from within the Hi-Tech electronics, software and export industry (including Swichtec's entrepreneurial multi millionaire Dennis Chapman and Tradenz CEO Fran Wilde). It has developed an implementation strategy that covers most of the initiatives outlined in today's Government announcement .
"Although we applaud its initiative we see the steps the Government has taken today as just the beginning," says Vivienne Feijen. NZInC's plans include the creation of a nationwide network of Business Innovation Centres (the first to open in Auckland next year). Modelled on internationally successful examples in the USA, Europe and Asia the Innovation Centres will assist an entrepreneur to turn an idea into a listed company on the stock exchange. The announcement of funding of up to $7.8 million for an Incubator Programme was welcomed by NZInC who hopes this will speed up the acceptance of such initiatives around New Zealand.
NZInC was also instrumental in the establishment of the Stock Exchange for Small Business. Late last year it was responsible for the Government sponsored investigation of the Swedish Innovation Market(IM) which the new capital market initiatives appear to emulate. "However the success of this hinges on having a business development component which ensures the quality of the ventures in which the public will invest", says NZInC Trustee and Venture Capital Market expert, John Blackham.
"Investors for the first time will have the opportunity to back New Zealand's own fledgling companies on the Stock Exchange For Small Business and reap the benefits," says Vivienne Feijen. "If we had embarked along this track several years ago the likes of Steve Outtrim's Sausage Software could well be contributing to our economy, instead of Australia's."
Government funded research and development has long been an issue for the high tech industry. "The Government is already spending $600million a year on the funding of Research and Development", says Vivienne Feijen. "We hope today's announcements will see the opening up of this fund to a greater diversity of industries and entrepreneurial projects, concentrating on those giving the greatest return to the New Zealand taxpayer."
"To the average New Zealander the Bright Future strategy provides the opportunity for us to build a real future for our children. The development of a thriving technology based industry in New Zealand will result in the creation of a large number of highly paid, globally sought after jobs and a huge injection of capital into the economy from both within and outside New Zealand," she says.
NZInC is in the process of inviting industry and community leaders to establish a collaboration strategy aimed at the practical application of these ideas. "As a group we have a history of successfully turning our ideas into a reality and this is no exception", says Vivienne Feijen. "We have all struggled to establish our own businesses in the current environment and know there is a better way for New Zealand to develop in the future. We have shared the vision, now we have to make it happen."
ENDS....

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