Synthesis of New Zealand TUI research and policy implications: is it time to support user invention in New Zealand?
In New Zealand, as in many countries, innovation is an important topic, one which is seen as vital to economic success. Currently, many New Zealanders are concerned with our present level of innovation, and comparisons with Australia and other countries are taken to indicate that we need to boost our rate of innovation in order to catch up. Within the OECD, New Zealand’s GDP per capita is below the OECD average and in less than four decades New Zealand has slipped from the OECD upper decile to 23rd position out of 31 (OECD 2010). Such slippage is usually considered as caused, in whole or in part, by a failure to innovate. As a generalisation, government policy on innovation typically focuses on research investment going into universities and Crown Research Institutes. Inventions then flow from these investments and some are commercialised, thereby contributing to economic growth. Private R&D expenditure is also considered to be a source of inventions. Given much less attention is user innovation or technology users who innovate (TUI). This type of innovation occurs when someone using technology re-invents, develops or improves it. User invention occurs in New Zealand, already contributes to economic growth, remains poorly recognised, and has great potential to be better managed to increase its contribution to the New Zealand economy As part of its funding in the Sustainable Economies and Technologies portfolio, the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has funded our TUI research programme for the last three years. Unfortunately, the social sciences are bearing the brunt of current research funding cutbacks, and funding for our research will not continue beyond this year. This conference paper includes a brief account of the TUI research programme, then provides a summary of the key results in two parts: first for TUI and then for the context of TUI in New Zealand. We then condense the programme findings into a summary of the overall results and use these to develop policy indications. Finally, we make policy recommendations and conclude with some strategic comparisons with Australia.... [Show full abstract]