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New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and the Foundation for Research Science and Technology are creating a nationwide network of ‘regional partners’ to help small businesses access information, funding, training and development services.

The network, which builds on the Foundation’s existing network of regional TechNZ partners providing research and development (R&D) support to businesses, is the key feature of a new model for delivering publicly-funded information and development services to small businesses,  Minister for Economic Development Gerry Brownlee announced this week.

Each partner organisation will be funded by NZTE and the Foundation to employ staff with business development skills and R&D expertise.

On behalf of the Foundation, regional partners will provide R&D advice and make and manage research and development investments from the Foundation’s TechNZ business programme, as already occurs through its existing regional network.

NZTE Acting Director of Performance Improvement Euan Purdie said the idea was to make information and advice for small businesses easily available – whether that was through the Government’s internet portal business.govt.nz, the 0800 biz Information telephone line, or through a conversation with a locally-based business development advisor.

“Our regional partners will have the local influence to encourage businesses to develop their management capability, to use information services, and to undertake research and development,” Purdie said.

Foundation Group Manager Manufacturing & High Growth Firms Richard Bentley said more than $5.9 million had already been invested in 500 small businesses through the TechNZ regional partner network in the past two years.

“The joint network will allow local organisations to make and manage R&D investments with local companies that have the aspiration and opportunity to grow. This is a great initiative for small businesses to access early stage support from both NZTE and the Foundation to help those businesses reach their business goals faster.“

Regional partners will also refer businesses to other private providers and government services, such as NZTE’s programmes for exporters and the Foundation’s TechNZ programmes for business innovation.

  • The Enterprise Training Programme, which a range of organisations have been contracted by NZTE to run, will not operate from 1 July 2010.
  • The NZTE-funded biz Information service for businesses will remain, but will be focused on the 0800 telephone service instead of separate ‘walk-in’ centres around New Zealand.

Regional partners are being sought through a request for provider (RFP) process and the new model is expected to be implemented in the various regions throughout the remainder of this year.

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