The New Zealand Research Landscape

Main NZ stakeholders

The research system in NZ is comprised of approximately 23,000 researchers employed by a range of research-oriented institutions including universities, government departments, city and regional councils, research associations and private firms, and the government-owned Crown research institutes (CRIs). Also included in the system are the various government bodies that set up or manage the range of legislation, regulations and policy relating to S&I, and provide and manage S&I investments.

  • Ministry of Science and Innovation (MSI)

MSI is the Government's lead agency charged with driving the science and innovation sector in New Zealand. It is also tasked with directing knowledge and technology transfer from the science and innovation sector to businesses and other research users. MSI was established on 1 February 2011 and is part of a broader Government focus to boost the science and innovation sector's contribution to economic growth.

MSI was created from merging two other agencies - the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. It is responsible for the policy and investment functions of both those agencies.

MSI advises the government on New Zealand's science and innovation system, oversees science and innovation investment and supports infrastructure and fostering commercialisation, enhancing productivity and achieving wider benefits for NZ through the application of research results.

  • Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC)

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) is the Crown agency responsible for the management of the NZ government's investment in public good health research. Ownership of the HRC resides with the Minister of Health, with funding being primarily provided from Vote Research, Science and Technology.

  • Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ)

The Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) is an independent national academy of sciences. It represents approximately 60 scientific and technological societies and individual members. The RSNZ administers several funds for science and technology, publishes journals, provides science advice to government, and fosters international scientific contact and co-operation.

  • Tertiary Education Commission (TEC)

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is a crown entity responsible for managing relationships with the tertiary sector and for policy development. It is responsible for funding the government’s contribution to tertiary education and training offered by universities and other post-compulsory education and training providers. The TEC administers the Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF), which allocates funding to institutions based on the quality of their research, and funding for the Centres of Research Excellence.

Main NZ Research Providers

Most of the non-private sector research undertaken in New Zealand is performed in the university sector with eight multi-faculty universities and the eight Governement-owned Crown research Institutes (CRIs). A map of New Zealand including all universities, CRI and other research organisations is available here.

NZ’s RS&T Investment

The NZ government recognises that RS&T makes essential contributions to NZ’s knowledge base, economy, environment and society. NZ’s overall investment in RS&T is $2.444 million per annum, which is 1.30% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 41.5% of this is funded by the private sector, 25.7% directly from Government and 32.8% from the university sector, most of which come from Government sources. Between 2008 and 2010, there was a 13% increase in the total funds, both public and private, committed to Research and Development (R&D). The annual operating investment through the Vote for RS&T for 2010/11 is NZ$788 million.

New Zealand Research Tradition of Excellence

New Zealand has a tradition of research excellence. Its strengths in science and research lie in the areas of biology, agriculture, horticulture, environmental science, earth science, materials science, health research and indigenous knowledge. NZ has a productive and high-performing RS&T system by international standards. However, its RS&T makes up only a small proportion of global RS&T. Its share of global research and development investment, which is only 0.2%, and science output of 0.58% of the world’s annual output of science and engineering papers, is small. For this reason, NZ benefits greatly by participating in the gloval pool of new knowledge and technologies, which it adapts for its own needs and challenges.

NZ and international RS&T linkages

As the 21st century unfolds, like all other nations, NZ faces the challenge to build a sustainable future where economic, environmental, social and cultural needs will intersect and require new ways of thinking and new ways of connecting with knowledge and information.  NZ is a small trading nation with an economy heavily dependent on primary industries, and is vulnerable to shifts in consumer attitudes in its key overseas markets, where sustainable production systems, climate change and other environmental issues are under the spotlight. NZ needs stronger international connections that would enable it to draw on the RS&T strengths of others to assist in achieving its own RS&T outcomes.