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NZ lacking innovation culture, says MIT study

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study says Auckland University has defied New Zealand’s poor record in innovation, entrepreneurship and availability of capital, to build a emerging international centre of excellence

An international study has named the University of Auckland as one of the world’s top five emerging leaders in entrepreneuriship, despite New Zealand’s increasing funding cuts to research and design.

The two-year study by MIT Skoltech looked for insights into how universities in challenging environments can move towards entrepreneurship and innovation.

The report’s author, Dr Ruth Graham found Auckland had undergone “impressive” cultural and institutional changes to gain the recognition, and is now an emerging international centre of excellence in entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Low levels of expenditure present a major constraint on the growth of the University’s ecosystem and the country’s innovation systems as a whole,” Graham says.

“What has been achieved by the university is impressive.”

The report says geographic isolation, lack of venture capital and a culture that does not support entrepreneurship and innovation are characteristic of New Zealand’s research and innovation climate

National expenditure on Kiwi-based research and innovation is 47% below the Organisaton for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, and the University of Auckland has had 30% of its research funding cut over the last three years, Graham says.

Graham cites the business school’s decision in the early 2000s to build a generation of business-savvy graduates as changing the culture of research and design.

Business school dean Professor Greg Whittred says the university has been working towards strengthening its entrepreneurial ecosystem over the last 12 years.

Commericially-focussed activities of UniServices and community-focussed and institutional activities of the Business School play a large role in the university’s on-going entrepreneurship and innovation culture, he says. 

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