Science and innovation central to New Zealand’s future

by Sir Peter Gluckman
New Zealand from space with stars above. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

The heightened centrality of science and innovation to New Zealand’s economic growth strategy is demonstrated in the reorganisation of government departments announced today.

What was the Ministry of Science and Innovation will soon be a central part of the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. This clustering is not uncommon overseas — sometimes it also includes tertiary education — which while not included in this clustering has the same Minister.

This reorganisation highlights the role that science and science-based innovation can play in a country’s development, be it through direct impact on greater productivity from enhanced services, advanced manufacturing and the primary industries, or indirectly through greater environmental sustainability and social development.

It will be important that the new Ministry continues to give focus to the broader ways in which science advances New Zealand and I have no doubt that will indeed be the case.

In this regard it is interesting and indeed important to note that achieving a number of the goals announced in the Prime Minister’s speech today depends on the application of good social and health sciences. One of the best ways of improving the efficiency of government expenditure is through better use of data and evidence in policy formation and it is an area that I remain focused upon.

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