MPs' visit to Taiwan

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Taiwan hosted four National MPs last week. I joined Nuk Korako, Joanne Hayes and Todd Barclay at a series of meetings with officials whose expertise includes science and technology innovation, business development, tourism, education and indigenous relations.

The itinerary included a visit to their Industrial Technology and Research Institute (ITRI), which is more or less equivalent to our Callaghan Institute.

There was much to admire in what they've achieved through the likes of ITRI. We got to see some of the products they have developed and taken through to production (or are the process of commercialising.) Much of what they have been doing is similar to our Business Growth Agenda: partnering with industry to research and develop new technologies, licensing intellectual property to private sector companies to aid their product development, and incentivising research and development investment within the private sector.

A particular outcome to admire -- and one I hope we can learn more about from further contact with Taiwanese officials -- is the size and makeup of R & D investment in their administration. It sits at 3 per cent of GDP and is split 80 per cent private sector and 20 per cent government.

At present, New Zealand's investment profile is weighted much more heavily toward government, as was the case previously in Taiwan. We have the chance to learn how they managed to shift that investment split to private sector investment.