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IBM study finds New Zealand continues to innovate

Posted on 29-May-2013 07:48 | Filed under: News

IBM has released the 2013 IBM Innovation Index of New Zealand, a multi-indicator study tracking the shape and rate of local innovation from 2007 to 2011.

The study says New Zealand’s overall innovation rate increased three per cent in the four years to 2011, bolstered by increased spending on Research & Development (R&D) during the global financial crisis. This investment balanced static Business Innovation results and a fall in Intellectual Property registrations.

The IBM Innovation Index combines official data on Research and Development (R&D), Business Innovation and Intellectual Property to present a detailed view of innovation performance by industry.

The Index shows that local R&D expenditure grew strongly - at an average rate of 7.6 per cent per annum - between 2007 and 2011, largely driven by the public sector. The equivalent of 4,600 full-time R&D jobs were created during this period. However, when the economy started to recover during 2011-12, the growth in R&D expenditure slowed to an average of 3.7 per cent per annum. As a result, New Zealand’s R&D intensity (the proportion of Gross Domestic Product spent on R&D) remains low compared to other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) economies.

“Increasing investment in R&D during the global recession buoyed our overall innovation rate, but we are yet to catch up to comparable nations’ innovation intensity. Seeing business spend more on R&D is a positive sign, and extra collaboration across New Zealand’s domestic and international innovation ecosystems is required to take this research to market,” says Dougal Watt, IBM New Zealand’s Chief Technology Officer.

Although private sector R&D spending increased after 2010, the overall rate of Business Innovation reported by companies remains flat. Business Innovation reflects improvements in goods and services, business operations, organisational strategy and marketing. Of these, only the marketing measure showed a positive change as more companies introduced new and improved methods to increase the appeal of goods and services.

“Overall Business Innovation remained consistent, however it would be preferable for this to also increase as transforming areas like supply chain processes, or creating new goods and services are necessary to commercialise the results of R&D,” concluded Mr Watt.

By using the IBM Innovation Index data visualisation tool available at, organisations can ‘drill down’ into 18 industries to see what is driving changes in innovation over time.

For example, in Financial and Insurance Services, overall innovation fell one per cent from 2007 to 2011 despite a five-fold increase in R&D in between 2008 – 2011. This is because Intellectual Property registrations, a more significant contributor to innovation in this industry, also fell.

"The 2013 IBM Innovation Index data visualisation tool lets you clearly see how much and in what areas New Zealanders are innovating. And as innovation is a key driver of long term economic growth, the Index gives us a glimpse into our economic future," says Professor Shaun Hendy from Callaghan Innovation.

Report findings indicate that R&D created the equivalent of 4,600 full-time jobs between 2007-10, when the equivalent of 12,600 full-time jobs were lost across the economy as a whole. By 2012, nearly 50,000 New Zealanders were employed to conduct R&D, 35,000 in research roles and the remainder in support roles.

Public sector investment drove R&D growth during the global financial crisis (GFC) but since 2010 most of the growth is due to private sector spending, especially from manufacturing companies. Nearly a third of Private Sector R&D expenditure is directed towards improving Manufacturing, followed by ICT second and Primary Industries third.

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