The Government has today announced the structure for a new Advanced Technology Institute that will become a high-tech HQ for innovative New Zealand businesses.
"The main purpose of the Advanced Technology Institute is to help get our best, most innovative ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace more quickly," says Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.
"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.
"It will encourage greater mobility of researchers, graduates, and academics between institutions and industry by organising co-appointments and secondments.
"We expect the ATI to focus on industries with significant growth potential such as food and beverage manufacturing, agri-technologies, digital technologies, health technologies and therapeutics manufacturing, and high-value wood products. This will encourage innovation, competition and greater commercialisation in these sectors.
"The ATI will take over some business development functions that currently sit within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. That will include the administration of some business research and development grants."
The ATI was a key recommendation of last year's Powering Innovation report, which looked at how to boost the growth of firms in the manufacturing and services sector.
As part of Budget 2012, the Government has allocated $166 million over four years for the ATI ($90 million opex and $76.1 million capex).
Industrial Research Limited (IRL) will be an integral part of the ATI but the
ATI's focus will be broader in scope than the current IRL and will operate as a Crown Agent.
The Government will shortly announce an Establishment Board that will be tasked with having the ATI operational by 1 December. The Board will be responsible for organisational decisions, including staffing requirements and the location of ATI centres in Auckland, the Hutt Valley, and Christchurch.
Because many of the staff and facilities from IRL will transfer to the ATI, the Establishment Board will also work with IRL's Board to oversee that process, and to ensure IRL's business commitments remain unaffected.
"Part of the Government's business growth agenda is ensuring there are better linkages between business, science, engineering and design to make sure great ideas are commercialised and generate income and jobs for New Zealanders," Mr Joyce says.
"The new ATI will help ensure that innovative Kiwi firms have access to the necessary skills, facilities, infrastructure and new technologies they need to lift their competitiveness and in turn boost New Zealand's economic growth."
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