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?

In 2014, New Zealand's thriving bio economy was ranked eighth in the world, and bioscience made up 18% of total R&D expenditure. Find out more about biotech in New Zealand.

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 2014 financial year, funding for research and development from all of these sources was NZ$2.6 billion.

Show me the money!

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

The New Zealand Government funds 27% of research, which is a similar proportion when compared with most of our major trading partners and other small advanced countries. When it comes to business investment in R&D, things are different. New Zealand businesses invested just over 5% of GDP in 2014, compared to 18% by the other countries. The good news is that New Zealand business expenditure rose by $53 million from 2012, and half of all businesses expected to increase their R&D activity in 2015.

Research strengths in New Zealand

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

  • manufacturing – including food processing and wood and paper products
  • primary industries – including the dairy, arable, and horticultural industries
  • information and communication services
  • health – including medical research, drug design and development, and diagnostics.

Who’s doing all this work?

Most of New Zealand’s R&D is done by 30,000 full-time researchers, postgraduate students, technicians and support staff. That’s 1 out of every 150 people you meet. Find out more in our Working in science topic.

Useful link

Find out more about the biotech sector in New Zealand by going to the NZBIO website and the biotechnolgy section on the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise website.

Read Statistics New Zealand's 2014 Research and Development Survey.

Published 16 November 2007, Updated 30 January 2017