The analogy of Alice in Wonderland comes to mind with Callaghan Innovation.
That, and a type of ennui as the 14-months-in-existence Crown Agent struggles to come into life.
Firstly, rumour has it (from a number of well-informed people) that minister of everything Steven Joyce is sitting on CI’s business plan.
Such a business plan was meant to be delivered not long after (but never really defined) Callaghan Innovation’s Statement of Intent which came out in early July.
So six months later all we still have is a generic SOI of what Callaghan Innovation will do.
How (the hard part) is still to be revealed through this business plan. Which, by inference means Steven’s just a bit wary (and one suspects weary) of it.
But wait, there’s more.
In the meantime, there’s been an announcement of a new stakeholder advisory board for Callaghan Innovation. Chaired by Magritek CEO Dr Andrew Coy, it comprises EverEdge IP founder Paul Adams, Weta Digital GM Tom Greally, Comvita CEO Brett Hewlett, Plant and Food Research CEO Peter Landon-Lane, Tait Communications MD Frank Owen, Angel HQ founder Suse Reynolds, Claire Robinson of Massey University's College of Creative Arts and Dynamic Controls CEO Charlotte Walshe.
As the press release says:
“This panel of experts will support the Callaghan Innovation Governance Board to deliver fresh thinking, and offer a diversity of perspective and experience that will help grow New Zealand’s economy through science and innovation.”
Just what has it, and more particularly its chair Sue Suckling been up to since then?
And, with the advisory board on-board as well, who is going to be responsible for what?
sticK always argued that the cart was in front of the horse in effectively scrapping the old IRL without defining what the new entity would do, or how it would do it.
While building the plane while you fly it may be OK for bootstrapping startups, doing the same with 400 or so scientists and engineers already employed is a much less validated process.
You have to suspect that Steven Joyce wishes he’d backed the well-planned potential morphing of IRL into an Advanced Technology Institute model, similar to say Taiwan’s ITRI.
The other exemplar that has been touted is the Danish Technology Institute. Callaghan representatives (and dozens of other NZ science people have visited this over the past decade).
Both ITRI and DTI are applied science/engineering-heavy entities that work hand-in-glove with industry and academia to turn prototypes and concepts into sellable commercial products.
Both have a well-defined mandate; they know their role.
Which, for all the commercialisation-speak of the embryonic Callaghan Innovation; it is still a long way off defining.
Quite where and how the new CI stakeholder advisory board will ‘advise’ Callaghan Innovation will be fascinating.
But, if the advisory board chairman Andrew Coy (magnetic resonance equipment-maker Magritek chief executive) wanted to help the country and his own company’s growth, he could do much worse than suggest dusting off the ATI model.
It could be just the thing to bring to a Mad Tea Party.