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National failing to deliver on R&D goals for New Zealand

Today’s release of the 2016 Research and Development Survey figures shows that the Government is falling further behind its goal to be ‘better than comparable countries’, says Labour’s Research and Innovation Spokesperson Megan Woods.

“The figures show a government that is headed in the wrong direction. Government spending as a percentage of GDP actually fell to 0.26 per cent in 2016 – continuing a four year declining trend. Total R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP is now a paltry 1.28 per cent – almost exactly where it was in 2012.

“Overall our GDP expenditure is roughly half the OCED average, and way behind our competitors such as Denmark (2.96%), Finland (2.9%), Israel (4.25%) and the US (2.79%).

“In 2015, Steven Joyce released their National Statement of Science Investment with the lofty goal of scaling up public investment in public research. These were fine words but the government is missing in action on a plan to pull us out of the bottom third of OECD for R&D investment.

“We need to see commitment and leadership from the Government not just glossy strategy papers. Without a proper government commitment, our economy and our regions will be unable to climb out of commodity production and price cycles, and our cities will languish. This is not the future we want for New Zealand.

“In fact, New Zealand has the lowest investment of the OECD’s small advanced economies. National set itself a goal to increase Business Expenditure on R&D (BERD) to 1 per cent of GDP by 2018. So far it has barely moved, and this data shows that the Government is likely to miss its target by some distance.

“Amongst small advanced economies there are clear shifts from passive to active government policy settings. You see active partnerships between government and private sectors – increasingly using programmes such as R&D tax credits, alongside targeted or discretionary grants.

“Labour wants to be an active partner for growth with businesses, delivering productivity enhancing R&D programmes. This data shows that once again, National has failed to deliver where it matters for the future economy of New Zealand,” says Megan Woods.