Innovation is often considered by economists as core to a country’s economic prosperity. At the turn
of the 20th century, refrigerated exports put New Zealand ahead of many of our European peers and
ranked us first against all others in GDP per capita. Whilst the world economy has changed a lot in
the last 100 years, the New Zealand Government remains actively focused on stimulating increased
innovation within the economy in an effort to increase economic growth and population wealth.
The main method for government to support innovation in recent times has been through the
formation of Callaghan Innovation. Callaghan is a Crown entity, established in 2013 with the
dedicated purpose of increasing innovation in NZ businesses. The entity takes its name from Sir Paul
Callaghan, a notable NZ physicist who advocated for increased focus on innovation funding and
initiatives to increase population prosperity.
The Callaghan strategy includes multiple options to deliver innovation services to qualifying
businesses, ranging from the provision of access to experts, to business collaborations and the offer
of research and development grants.
Many businesses seeking to innovate, or develop their products, can apply for Callaghan resources.
In 2016, 229 businesses accessed the programs, with a further 1,068 businesses working towards
grant applications. Companies from a broad spectrum of industries have benefitted from help and
funding, including Methven, Rocket Lab, and even Archgola, a supplier of awnings and shade
There are three main grants available for R&D - the Growth Grant, the Project Grant and the Student Grant. The application guidelines for each of these grants are substantial, with varying application criteria. Project Grants are available to eligible businesses breaking into new ground, with grants of up 40% R&D project costs available. Growth Grants can benefit businesses who are already spending upwards of $300,000 on R&D, with grants of up to 20% of R&D costs available up to a maximum of $5m per annum. Student Grants are available to support businesses who wish to hire undergraduate and postgraduate students in order to attain specialist technical knowledge to aid in their production process. Although the application process may seem quite daunting, with an array of qualifyingcriteria to be met, Callaghan are on hand to assist.
They recommend that potential innovators call
them directly to discuss their ideas as a business might qualify for many of the options available.
Outside of the grants program, Callaghan’s contacts within the business industry are extensive and
can help businesses through collaborations and access to industry specialists through their ‘Access to
Experts’ program. Callaghan has a database of national and international experts available and can
refer businesses through to their partner organisations among the NZ business community.
Callaghan also tries to help businesses with their in-house innovation expertise, through a range of
accessible training courses, workshops and programs. Courses such as IMProve, Innovate IP and
Better By Lean are available to businesses to assist them with benchmarking innovation capabilities,
leverage their intellectual property, and review their management systems to improve productivity and
To achieve high growth as a country, innovation is needed to bring new exportable technologies into
production. Any business that is looking to improve their innovation capabilities should contact
Callaghan Innovation to see if one of their many programs could be of help.