Welcome to the gig.
You have an interesting (to say the least) and challenging brief to frame up the Advanced Technology Institute (your terms of reference will be most enlightening).
I do worry though when I hear rumours of outside consultants already writing business plans for this new hybrid. We don't really yet know what it is we’re making, so slightly premature don’t you think?
I hope too that you’re given the licence to enhance the whole system, including the technology-rich products and services.
I hope you will listen carefully to and balance the perspectives of:
- Industry (but avoid the risk of candy floss science)
- IRL and other research groups. Keep them engaged and get their buy-in, but don’t create IRL in drag
- Government (should be able to find the best models of overseas practices)
Thus far the third of these has dominated the conversation, so I look forward to the ATI establishment board redressing the balance.
And while we’re in advice mode, never forget that the ATI must be research-based to gain the respect of, and add value to industry. But at the same time, transferring critical research areas to universities will castrate the animal before it is born.
Sir Peter Gluckman noted in a recent National Radio interview on the topic 'What do scientists know about economics?' that an innovation-led future will have to have a certain New Zealand-ness, and can’t simply replicate the models of Israel, Finland or other countries (Gluckman’s talk is here).
I also hope your brief allows you to explore other impediments to technology-led international growth:
- Routes to market/partnering
If, apparently, there’s no shortage of ideas in New Zealand, while knowing half will fail, how do we best ferment an environment of give-it-a-go – professionally and with purpose?
So, your job, as much as anything, is to best fertilise the idea/institute/pre/market ecosystem. And not just in Auckland and Christchurch.
The way this new beast is structured is a crucial opportunity to add a missing part appropriate to our culture and circumstances.
An idea is easy. Pulling it off is the trick. The ATI has the potential to be a crucial player, a Sonny Bill Williams even, in cranking us up a couple of gears in clever tech stuff.
Good luck. May you sail before the wind.