Owen Glenn – innovation, science and technology

In the New Zealand Herald, businessman and philanthropist Owen Glenn writes about getting the most out of innovation in Kiwi research.

Excerpts (read in full here):

Let’s sow the seeds for real growth

I’m not one who favours either/or situations.

They tend to limit possibilities and the imagination. Consequently I’m a little perturbed by what appears to be symptoms of a return to the arm wrestle between two alternative paths towards securing New Zealand’s economic future – is agriculture the way or is it the development of high-tech enterprises?

This should not be an either/or choice and those at the coal face of developing both sectors are not necessarily the ones creating this artificial divide.

Clearly we have a known and respected reputation in agribusiness – the question I ask is can we do more to promote our capabilities? Let’s ask our agribusiness leaders but my guess is that with an exceptionally well-managed and co-ordinated New Zealand Inc type effort the increases would be significant, particularly underpinned by the smart use of science and technology.

Especially given agriculture already contributes in excess of $25 billion to GDP and accounts for over half our total export revenue.

Such an entity may exist or be in the making but I’d encourage the likes of Massey University – perhaps in collaboration with CRIs – to set up their agri-focused version of the University of Auckland’s Icehouse programme.

The acronym of PIG – a place for Primary Innovation and Growth – fits, however more clever and creative minds would come up with the right name.

The combination of bright people, a strong base of research and development activity, and a diverse and innovative “eco-system” which can create the conditions where niches are found and opportunities for value creation and capture are exploited, is a winning formula.