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NZ rates highly for cleantech commercialisation but no room for complacency

New Zealand has ranked 18th of 40 countries in WWF and The Cleantech Group’s Global Cleantech Innovation Index, but has earned recognition for its performance in its ability to commercialise cleantech innovation.

More than 39 percent of New Zealand’s energy consumption comes from renewable sources, the report says.

“New Zealand already has specialisation in forestry, horticulture, manufacturing and engineering which are highly transferrable to areas of clean technology.

“New Zealand also has a high renewables consumption, due largely to a period of aggressive hydro-electricity development between 30 and 60 years ago, and the world’s highest geothermal energy use per person.”

The report measures evidence of commercialised cleantech innovation in terms of the ability to scale up cleantech innovation, based on value added manufacturing; cleantech company revenues; renewable energy consumption data; cleantech late-stage private investment, M&As and IPOs.

“This report shows that New Zealand has great potential for clean technology. It shows we have the basics in place but we are lagging behind when it comes to encouraging clean tech innovation compared to many others, said WWF Head of Campaigns Peter Hardstaff. “While inheriting renewable electricity infrastructure in the form of hydro dams provides a great foundation, it does not mean we should be complacent. The government should be looking at countries like Denmark or Finland to see if we can learn lessons and make the most of a growing global market.”

In the report New Zealand also scored relatively well on the general environment for innovation, but comparatively lower marks on having policies to promote clean technology and on evidence of new clean technology innovation emerging here.

The countries were judged n 15 indicators related to the creation, commercialisation and growth of cleantech startups. Israel topped the 2014 index, with its relative outperformance on the measure of startup companies per capita a key reason.

Finland took second place in recognition of the efforts the country is making to mobilise its workforce towards sustainable innovation, while the US came in third place, with its clean technology startups attracting the most venture capital. However, in the past few years, there have been more cleantech funds set up to invest in China than for any other part of the world, with capital inflows expecting to rival that of the US in the years to come.

New Zealand and Singapore weren’t included in the 2012 index but were added due to high relevance in looking at emerging cleantech innovation companies, the report said.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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