2017 Election – Innovation Policies

Government R&D incentives play an active part in encouraging innovative activity. Between 2014 and 2016, due to increases in science funding, R&D spend in New Zealand increased by 29 percent. Business investment in R&D helps Kiwi technology companies to realise products faster and thus bring in global revenues sooner. 

With less than a month until the election, here is a rundown of what each party is proposing in order to increase innovation and grow New Zealand’s economy.

The National Party

Innovation is one of six key areas in the National Party’s growth agenda. This year, the budget for science and innovation was increased by $256 million over four years. Another $74.6 million was added for the Callaghan Innovation Growth Grants, for a total of $657 million over the next four years.

Total spend for science and innovation will rise from $1.32 billion in 2015 to $1.66 billion by 2021.

The Labour Party

Labour plans to increase public science spend to meet the OECD average over time. They also propose a 12.5 percent R&D tax credit.

The Labour Party would like to introduce a young entrepreneurs plan, allowing Kiwi’s between 18 and 23 to apply for a grant of up to $20,000 in order to start a new, innovative business.

Furthermore, Labour plans to set up a digital excellence centre in Dunedin to grow existing digital companies.

The Green Party

The Green Party want to increase investment in science and R&D. They want to focus on research that contributes to sustainability through innovation, and discourage public science funding that is used for environmentally destructive practices.

The Green Infrastructure Fund would be introduced to attract private funding for innovative low carbon projects.

The Opportunities Party

The Opportunities Party would like to raise business R&D levels by encouraging a long-term outlook on productive investment. They aim to focus on sustainable ways of building revenue, rather than a reliance on property. The Opportunities Party believes that New Zealand needs to work smarter, rather than harder. They would like to increase R&D levels and boost the value of exports rather than the volume.

The Maori Party

The Maori Party intend to help create a potential 150,000 new jobs per year by 2060 via a priority investment fund for Maori Research and Development. They will encourage collaboration between researchers and industry to create jobs and opportunities. The party also proposes an incubation hub for hapu and iwi to test the viability of innovative ideas.

New Zealand First

New Zealand First’s policy proposes R&D tax incentives for businesses to innovate and grow exports and to provide assistance in marketing new products and services.  They would also like to lower the cost of intellectual property protection.

Act New Zealand

Act do not have a specific policy for increasing investment in innovation. The party opposes subsidies for R&D, and would instead use funding for a corporate tax cut.

R&D tax incentives that encourage innovation are an important part of government policy. They encourage more companies to engage in R&D activities that have the potential to improve efficiency, create jobs and make ground-breaking discoveries. Please contact Swanson Reed R&D Tax Advisors to find out which grant funding initiatives are available to you.

Does New Zealand Need To Prioritise Growth?

According to Mark Thomas, a 2016 Auckland mayoral candidate, New Zealand needs to be smarter, not luckier.

New Zealand has some solid international rankings, including 26th on the international innovation index and 7th on the OECD’s better life survey. However, there is room for improvement on other counts. The country’s income equality ranks 54th and its top university comes in at 82nd. Furthermore, the nation’s GDP per capita has been steadily declining since 1970, moving from 9th to 31st.

Thomas believes New Zealand should place greater priority on growth, which would help to address important livability issues. “Are we happy to continue to count our luck, or do we want to count more growth? Are we prepared to trade “liveability” to be actually more liveable?” He believes that prioritising growth is imperative and requires a more global outlook in terms of issues like increasing skilled migration, improving education and fast-tracking new technology. 

The country is off to a good start in terms of technology. New Zealand was recently classified as one of the world’s top digital economies in the Fletcher School’s 2017 Digital Evolution Index, which included countries with high levels of digital development and a fast rate of digital evolution. Government policy was a leading factor in the results. The report said that “While some may believe true innovation happens when government ‘gets out of the way,’ the stand out countries of the Digital Evolution Index suggest that there is, in fact, a significant role for the state to play in facilitating and fostering the digital economy.”

The New Zealand government believes that if more firms were digitally engaged, the contribution of digital to the economy could triple. Peter Dunne, Minister of Internal Affairs stated that “We must continue to innovate and harness the power of digital solutions to build on our gains and deliver even better services to New Zealanders.” To encourage innovation, tax incentives are available to companies who are undertaking research and development projects. If you are unsure about whether you qualify, our friendly experts at Swanson Reed R&D Tax Advisors will be able to advise you.