KiwiNet’s response to Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways Consultation Process

Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways is a multi-year programme focused on the future of New Zealand’s research system. The programme seeks to start an open and wide-ranging conversation on a range of issues facing the research system, how these issues might be addressed, and how to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Hamilton NZ, 3 May 2022

KiwiNet provided a response to MBIE on their Future Pathways Green Paper.
Read our full submission


We applaud the Government’s commitment to create a research, science and innovation system that vitally contributes to New Zealand’s success. In light of this commitment, MBIE has requested input into determining national priorities and the ways to best support these priorities through the restructure of the research science and innovation sector.

We believe there are overarching issues to be addressed in order to achieve any potential gains through future priority setting and/or restructure. These issues are related to the effectiveness of knowledge exchange pathways which lead to impact generation. 
Firstly, we believe it is the Government’s intention to develop a research, science and innovation system which is funded by New Zealanders and in turn, creates impact for New Zealanders.

Impact from the sector may be defined in many ways. Academic papers contribute to academic communities nationally, and globally, spur further research, and support the international rankings of our institutions. Academic researchers provide commentary as critics and conscience of society adding weight and perspective to national conversations. This has been particularly notable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nonetheless, we believe the impact desired by the Government is the impact which reaches the lives of all New Zealanders. This impact may be from research findings that feed into public policy – such as social, health, legal research. It is also the impact created by commercialisation–the process of moving world class scientific research discoveries from our public research organisations out into the world. Commercialisation is, in part, the strategic planning and the direction of travel for patenting new knowledge which, once protected, developed and licensed can attract investment, and then begin transformation into the high-tech solutions to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

It is within this process of commercialisation, often unseen and misunderstood across the system, that the greatest gains are to be made. Within the current operating model, New Zealand’s institutions are funded for research which can deliver impact yet disincentivised to commercialise their research discoveries.

This anomaly is unresolved. Internal funding mechanisms do not deliver resource to parts of the system involved in commercialisation. Commercial capabilities across institutions are often disparate and uneven. This key process in creating knowledge exchange for impact generation, is in fact, our weakest link. Our submission explores some of the system attributes and their unintended consequences on the process of commercialisation.


  1. Fundamental misalignment between Government, research institutions, and the private sector exists about the basic premise to commercialise for the benefit of New Zealand. This misalignment drives competitive and short-term behaviours which undermine connection and lead to much inefficiency within the system. This leaves intellectual property and impact potential unrealised. MBIE must provide the research, science, and innovation sector with clear performance expectations around benefit to New Zealand and what constitutes success as a nation.
  2. The current system of Intellectual Property ownership and management does not serve the research, science, and innovation community well. Open, honest discussion about IP ownership and management is needed to develop a ‘no surprises’ culture and address the imbalances of power and control around IP ownership and management.
  3. Institutions have a key role in deciding the priorities to be placed on commercialisation activity within their institution and to own inherent system disincentives and address these with the funder to ‘de-risk’ knowledge exchange within institutions.De-risking the knowledge exchange process within institutions could be the single biggest driver toward more knowledge exchange and improved potential impact generation.
  4. A slow commercialisation process is a lose-lose scenario for institutions, founders, the private sector, and New Zealand. Simultaneous action is required across the sector to accelerate knowledge exchange. This looks like: clear direction and performance expectations from Government, a greater share of government and/or institutional funds to the parts of the system responsible for commercialisation, mechanisms to support the smooth exit of IP into the private sector and ‘real world’.
  5. System dis/incentives and IP monetization issues must be addressed in order for greater investment into the new system to deliver better results.