On a Monday afternoon this month a workshop was held at the Manawatu Golf Club. This was just one of twelve being held in different regions around the country by the MBIE to try to determine if business innovation and economic growth could be catalysed by new institutes. These institutes would operate as private, independently governed entities that would collect commercially focused and industrially exploitable research.
“In some places in the economy access to external research is lacking,” said workshop facilitator Stephen Howard, “however not all regions will get a research institute, it depends on their value for each region.” According to Howard the knowledge capitals of New Zealand at the moment are in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. One of the aims of the MBIE is to try to alter this knowledge landscape to exploit economic opportunity in other areas around the country.
Around 80 attendants from the Manawatu region attended the workshop including researchers from Massey University and Crown Research Institutes, people from economic development agencies, the chamber of commerce, and various business leaders and experts. BCC was also asked to participate and both our CEO and two of our technology transfer advisors went along to offer their own expertise.
What would the success of a regional research institute look like? This was one of the several questions put to us for discussion as we sat in our groups around our tables. The institutes should be self sustainable, attract investment facilitate connections between research and industry. Others were of the opinion that successful institutes would need to leverage what already exists and not be just another type of Crown Research Institute. “It’s a good start to get some dialog going around the idea,” says BCC tech transfer advisor Jaspreet Kaur.
So – what’s next? Workshops will continue to be held around the country into October. For the next stage a registration of interest process will open. This will be followed by a business case development over February to April next year.Posted by