Albert McGhee and Iain Hosie, from Revolution Fibres, discuss the importance of innovation for New Zealand.
Albert McGhee comments: “It’s the action, the output of innovation that’s important.” He poses the questions: Are we innovative? Are we innovative enough? Discuss why these are important questions when considering New Zealand’s economic future.
‘Innovation’ is a word that everybody likes to use to describe themselves, their company, their country. It’s a good thing to be, we all recognise that, but the most important part is the actions, the output. “The question we need to be asking ourselves, “Are we innovative enough?”
Innovation is fundamental to New Zealand. We’re behind Australia and most other OECD countries since the 1970s in our increase in productivity. And this means that, as an economy, we’re unable to pay the wages and salaries that people need, and so to really grow that, we need to increase our productivity. So the question becomes: “How do we increase productivity?” By doing things better, by doing things differently, by finding new ways to do things. That’s innovation.
We have an innovative culture, an inventive culture. We tend to take problems and, in a do-it-yourself style, try and fix them ourselves. We don’t want to give our problems to other companies or give our problems to other people to fix, we like to have a go ourselves. And that’s ingrained in our nature as New Zealanders, and I think that can be exploited. We see many countries now looking at New Zealand as an ideas generator. That means that, essentially, we can export our ideas. The challenge is getting some economic return for our ideas, and that’s something that New Zealand probably has to think a lot harder about, is how we take good ideas, perhaps get them manufactured somewhere else, but still retain revenue from our ideas and still have the ability, the infrastructure to keep creating new ideas.
Albert McGhee, Iain Hosie
Simon Feasey, Hansol Cha, Cody McClure