Sir Peter Gluckman on Auckland and science

Writing in the New Zealand Herald, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, outlines the important role Auckland will play in the future of New Zealand’s science and technology sector.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Science key to richer country

New Zealand’s export economy has been dominated by its primary industries, commodities and tourism, but in the 21st century most strategic thinkers would accept that science and knowledge-based innovation is central to a better and more prosperous country.

But both our public and private sectors have over decades under-invested in research and development; only recently has this started to change. Auckland must play a critical role in this transition.

A smart nation must have a sufficiency of ideas flowing, an ecosystem that allows the market and the scientist to get close together, and a culture that accepts risk. Overseas evidence suggests that 100 potential commercial ideas need evaluation to find one that justifies investment. The ecosystem has many components – the generation of bright young minds (perhaps the most critical), access to capital, expertise in the management of intellectual property, expertise in dealing with regulatory affairs in areas such as health and food. And then, when the product is in the hands of the private sector, there are other issues.


Green shoots are emerging – they must be nurtured. It is not unrealistic for Auckland to become, within a decade, known as a knowledge city with a vibrant technology sector comprising not only small to medium enterprises but also multinationals undertaking research and development in areas where we have a advantage. If we look at advanced comparable countries, a feature of all of them is their capacity to attract multinationals to do research and development. The tyranny of distance is overstated when we consider the knowledge-based industries.

Turning Auckland into a smart global city in a smart nation must be a priority. The investment needed is partly fiscal, but so much more of it is psychological and motivational.

Read in full.