How New Zealand is Transforming one sector at a time

There is a mood of change and transformation in New Zealand. Some of this is fuelled by a response to the COVID pandemic and the need to adapt sectors and sector focus. Some of it is driven by a desire to keep getting better at the things New Zealand already does well and have further potential.

The Government has embarked on new approach to grow more innovative industries and lift the productivity of key sectors. Industry Transformation Plans (ITP) are long term plans developed in partnership with Government and industry, articulating a vision and an action plan for a sector. Whilst industry partnerships have been common in New Zealand, doing this at a sector level with a shared long-term vision is a new format of engagement.

The approach is marked by:

  • Deepening the partnerships between industry and government and among industry players
  • Describing an agreed vision for the future state of the chosen sectors
  • Integrating different restructuring efforts for a sector
  • An emphasis on technology, innovation, and skills development
  • Directing investment towards more productive sectors

The initial priority sectors for developing Industry Transformation Plans are the following:

  1. Agritech (developed and in-progress)
  2. Digital technologies (under development)
  3. Advanced Manufacturing (planned)
  4. Food and beverage (planned)
  5. Forestry and wood processing (planned)

Agritech was selected as a priority sector because of its importance to New Zealand’s transition to a highly productive, low-emissions future, its adjacency to a strong food and fibre sector, and the existing expertise and investment in this area. The emergence of the ‘Agritech New Zealand’ industry organisation and their role in providing a cooperative partner for the Government in this sector was also an important factor.

The Digital Technology ITP will articulate an agreed vision for the digital technology sector in terms of how it can underpin a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy and society towards 2050, and an action plan for how to get there.

As mentioned, other priority ITPs are set to follow soon and additional sectors have been ear-marked for future focus include: Creative industries, Tourism, Aerospace, Health technologies and Renewable energy.

The ‘enablers’ for these industry restructuring efforts can be grouped into three themes:

  1. People: developing the skills and leadership required to drive change.
  2. Government: ensuring the right business supports are available and that regulatory and trade settings are enabling the sectors to grow and export
  3. Infrastructure: ensuring there is adequate investment being made into the sector, including identifying and addressing any investment gaps that exist.

This approach has already demonstrated some new methods of collaboration between industry and government. For a start, the various government departments are organising themselves into ‘all of government’ ITP taskforces, with a make-up to suit reach ITP, to assist in the development, and planned delivery, of the ITPs. Many people working on public sector collaborations will have experienced challenges in getting alignment between different departments with different ministerial reporting relationships. This cross- department approach is actually very important and meaningful in driving transformation plans.

A new investment fund, the Elevate NZ Venture Fund, is being administered by New Zealand Growth Capital Partners Ltd on behalf of the Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. The Elevate Fund is a $300 million fund-of-funds, which invests in other privately run venture capital funds, and matches public capital with that raised from private investors. By the time it is fully deployed, it will crowd up to $600 million of private venture capital into the space. The Elevate Fund’s investment committee includes experienced international venture capital fund managers who will focus on the capabilities and connectivity that prospective funds bring.

Incubator programmes overseen by Callaghan Innovation, the New Zealand Government’s innovation agency, provide not only greater access to capital and potential for scale, but also emphasise capability and international connectivity. Scale Up NZ, also managed by Callaghan Innovation, is looking to make it easier for businesses to connect with people and capital domestically and offshore. If you want to know who is active in innovation in New Zealand, www.new-zealand.globalfinder.org is a great place to start your search.

Global alliances are a key part of the trade initiatives backing these programs. In sync with the ITPs, sector groups are seeking common ground with partners and establishing formal systems and structures. It has specifically been acknowledged that a strong Australian agritech sector will help generate a viable and powerful regional ecosystem. To create global impact, New Zealand sees that as a key relationship. Other initiatives include project investments to conduct Northern hemisphere counter seasonal trials.

As economies around the world adapt to new trading conditions, aligning response to long term strategies is a key enabler. These Industry Transformation Plans are creating new opportunities for industry collaboration and global alliances. With so much going on, it is a great time to reach out and find industry partners in NZ that are active in your sector.

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