$74.6m to develop tech-savvy Aotearoa businesses

By Aroha Mane

This year the Government is injecting $74.6 million into increasing demand for research and development projects. The money will boost "Growth Grants" distributed by Callaghan Innovation. 

But what real benefits are in it for Māori businesses? 

Minister of Science and Innovation Paul Goldsmith says this research and development fund will help Aotearoa businesses get their ideas and products to the market sooner and further increase export revenues.

“Growing levels of business R&D are likely to increase the productivity of the wider economy as they result in knowledge and technology that can be used by other businesses to generate new industries, higher-value products and higher-skilled jobs.”

According to Callaghan Innovative General Manager Hemi Rolleston, "Maori need to evolve more from being landlords and primary producers, to invest further up the value chain into other areas such as tourism and food – for example, through inventing technology to pick kiwifruit instead of just owning the land it’s grown on."

Rolleston also highlighted the role Māori have in the market, "The latest reports show that the Māori asset base increased from $36.9 billion in 2010 to $42.6 billion in 2013, with the largest portion of the Māori contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) coming from the primary sector (contributing $1.8 billion to Māori GDP in 2013)."

Other business and economic initiatives were seen at this year's Hi-Tech Awards in Auckland. The 2017 winner of the Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Maori Innovation Award was Biolytic. A company who pride themselves on creating eco-friendly water waste products to better sustain the planet. Among the nominees was Navilluso Medical, a company co-operated by Kaitaia GP Dr Lance O'Sullivan.

Dr O'Sullivan spoke to Māori Television earlier about Navilluso Medical's project, "iMOKO is a digital health platform where we are actually wanting to democratise health care by putting simple technologies into the hands of whānau to achieve better health outcomes."

2017 Kiwibank Hi-Tech Innovative Services Award - Navilluso Medical announced as finalist for NZ Hi-Tech Awards

2016 Callaghan Innovation Māori Innovation Winner - Tiaki launch new technology to replace trawl nets 

Callaghan Innovation has also played a key role in nurturing future candidates. These projects included an establishment of a Māori Innovative hub – Te Whare a Māui, Dig My Idea an initiative aimed at inspiring more Māori innovators, and the drive to motivate more Māori youth to study science, business and technology.

The company currently run's a project that takes secondary students to one of the largest digital hub of the world, Silicon Valley. Some of these schools include Te Wharekura o Mauao (Bay of Plenty), Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou (East Coast) and Okaihau College (Northland).

Dig My Idea recipient encourages Māori to dig technology 

Okaihau student off to Silicon Valley 

East Coast students embark on a journey to Google’s headquarters 

Budget relief for tax thresh-holds, debt reduction, tourism and housing are likely to be popular requests. For economic growth, the Government is focused on evolving business knowledge and ensuring New Zealand has the right tools and resources to contribute to the current morphing economy.

R&D Growth Grants

• R&D Growth Grants are an on-demand, non-discretionary scheme that enables qualifying companies to claim back 20 percent of their eligible R&D expenditure, capped at $5m a year.
• To qualify, a business must commit to spending at least $300,000, and at least 1.5 percent of revenue, a year on R&D occurring in New Zealand.
• They must also be domiciled in New Zealand and maintain or increase their spending on R&D over the course of the funding. There are clawback provisions should a change occur that reduces the benefit to New Zealand.
• Growth Grants are for three years but after two years, businesses can be granted a further two-year extension of funding.
• Growth Grants are just one of a suite of business innovation services provided through, which include R&D Project Grants for smaller companies and those new to R&D, and R&D Student Grants that give graduates the opportunity to work in innovative companies.

Growth Grant funding will increase from

• $140.3 million in 2016, to
• $153.9 million in 2017/18
• $161.4 million in 2018/19
• $169.2 million in 2019/20
• $172.8 million in 2020/21

Last year the budget offered friendlier and more simplifies tax packages for small businesses paying out $187 million over four years. There was also an interest to increase the country’s cyber bullying infrastructure paying out $22 million over four years.