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New Zealand’s Industrial Research Ltd recently launched a programme to help businesses improve their up-take of R&D.

The IRL Co-investment Programme is designed to help firms get products to market with much lower development costs.

Under the scheme qualifying companies will get the opportunity to develop their ideas into prototypes and proofs of concept at a heavily discounted rate.

This scheme follows on from IRL’s successful $1 million R&D competition – What’s Your Problem New Zealand.

“After running the competition we realised that New Zealand firms were very keen on utilising R&D to create innovative products but they needed some assistance,” says Shaun Coffey, IRL’s chief executive.

He hopes the IRL Co-investment Programme will enable many new ideas to leap off the drawing board and secure further investment in due course.

“I am confident that the government will extend the Technology Transfer Voucher scheme to other sectors in time and I challenge other R&D providers to come up with their own innovative schemes to complement and support this initiative.”

In the May 2010 Budget, new funding of $20 million over the next four years was announced to set up Technology Transfer Vouchers. Five million dollars is available in the 2010/2011 year.

Vouchers will provide a business with 50 per cent funding to enable access to research services and expertise from accredited publicly funded research organisations for a specific R&D project.

Voucher values may range from a minimum of $100,000 to a maximum of $1 million. It is expected that most vouchers issued will be in the $100,000 to $200,000 range – with matched co-funding required from businesses. For example, if a business receives a voucher worth $200,000 then its contribution is also $200,000, making $400,000 available for purchase of R&D from a research organisation.

Vouchers will only be awarded to businesses with limited or no in-house R&D capability, and with well-defined problems or ideas that will benefit from the R&D expertise and services in a research organisation.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology will administer the new voucher programme. It will be welcoming applications from businesses for vouchers from 1 November this year. The Foundation will assess these applications and award vouchers to suitable businesses.

The six research organisations selected by the government to supply services are:

• The University of Auckland • Industrial Research Limited • The University of Canterbury • Auckland University of Technology • The University of Otago • The Wellington Institute of Technology

Businesses with a Technology Transfer Voucher will be able to redeem these with one of the selected research organisations, to tap into knowledge and expertise in the science sector.

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