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"Wellbeing Budget" puts dollars behind digital transformation

"Wellbeing Budget" puts dollars behind digital transformation

New funding address innovation, digital transformation and skills

The 2019 "Wellbeing Budget"  includes funding to drive NZ's digital transformation.

The 2019 "Wellbeing Budget" includes funding to drive NZ's digital transformation.

Credit: Dreamstime

The government's "Wellbeing Budget", released yesterday, puts millions into a roadmap to drive prosperity in the digital age.

The document said this requires industries and businesses to innovate and adopt "cutting-edge technology that offers productivity and job benefits".

"New Zealanders need the chance to share in the opportunities provided by the digital age by both increasing the availability of technology and programmes for people to acquire the skills required to use it," the document said.

Among other measures, the government is releasing new venture funding to foster that innovation and encourage smaller start-ups to expand.

"There is evidence of a gap in domestic capital markets that may be slowing the growth of New Zealand firms -- this gap is not being filled by current venture capital," the government said.

New start-ups are well served but mid-sized ones, between about $2 million and $15 million in size, are not well supported.

The managers of sovereign wealth fund The Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation have therefore been asked to support its goal to strengthen and deepen this market through a new $300 million fund. 

The fund will use $240 million of contributions earmarked for the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZS Fund) between 2018 and 2022 and $60 million from the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund’s (NZVIF) existing assets.

"This will help keep more start-ups in New Zealand for longer and support the proportion of New Zealand ownership," economic development minister David Parker said.

“We need to have well-functioning early stage capital marts and a healthy start-up ecosystem to grow the knowledge economy."

The Budget also allocates $106 million of operating funding over four years and $50.6 million capital into innovation, with initiatives to support businesses to become more productive and develop high-value, low emissions products.

Meanwhile, $25.5 million over four years will go to help support, incubate and grow start-ups.

“Having sustained support will mean that innovators can more effectively commercialise science and research and turn ideas into products and services which can then be successfully brought to market,” Minister of research, science and technology Megan Woods said.

The funding will help start-ups with more support for the Commercialisation Partner Network Fund. It will also provide additional support for the PreSeed Accelerator Fund and the scale-up of the Technology Incubator programme.

The government said it wants to stay ahead of the skills curve and make sure New Zealanders have the skills they need to adapt.

"Ensuring a just transition to the future of work is a priority area for the Government," it said. "This means working across sectors to develop policies that help New Zealanders make the most of the rapidly changing digital world."

The Budget includes $6.2 million of operating and $600,000 of capital funding for an Industry 4.0 demonstration network with up to two "smart factories" to help employers make sure they are ready for the future as well.

It also counts on $8.7 million in operating and $600,000 capital funding will go to ensure the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) New Zealand is adequately funded and a further $8 million will support the implementation of the government's cyber security strategy.

Another $27.6 million in operating funding will go to the government chief digital officer to supporting the government’s digital transformation through the delivery of innovative government services.

The RealMe identity versification service will receive $57.1 million in operating and $9 million capital to continue to operate, while $2 million will go to improved satellite-based positioning technology.

Digital literacy for seniors is also being funded to the tune of $600,000 for community organisations to provide training and teaching facilities to help seniors use and keep up with digital technology.


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