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.