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Research and development in NZ

Research and development (R&D) is considered by our government to be a key driver in our country’s growth. So, who funds it, how much do they spend, and what are the key areas being funded?

Who funds research and development in New Zealand?

Funding for R&D in New Zealand comes from the government, private businesses, universities, and overseas sources. In the 2003/2004 financial year, funding for research and development from all of these sources was NZ$1.6 billion.

Show me the money!

The last 10 years have seen increased funding for research, with $718 million spent by the NZ government in the 2003/2004 financial year.

This sounds like a lot of money, but how does New Zealand’s spending compare with other countries?

The good news is that the NZ government funds a higher proportion (45%) of research than other governments in OECD countries (30%). However, in the 2003/2004 financial year New Zealand spent slightly less of its gross domestic product (GDP) on research (0.52%) than other OECD countries (0.68%). This means, in reality, less actual funding for R&D – by both government and the private sector.

Research strengths in NZ

New Zealand has a wide variety of research strengths. Currently, the top four areas receiving funding are:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing – including the dairy, arable, and horticultural industries
  • Industrial development – including food processing, wood and paper products, construction, and electronics and engineering
  • Development of infrastructure – including commercial and trade services, transport, urban and rural planning, and ICT
  • Health – including medical research, drug design and development, and diagnostics

Who’s doing all this work?

Most of NZ’s R&D is done by 20,000 full-time researchers, post-graduate students, technicians, and support staff. That’s 1 out of every 200 people you meet.


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