View Full Version : CRI Task Force Recommendations

15th March 2010, 09:34 PM
There has been quite a lot of press recently about CRI performance and funding, just some of which is linked below.



I think one of the most important comments in this report relates to what should happen to research results or outcomes.

Should a research organisation made up largely of academics, technicians and bureaucrats be expected to be good at bringing products to market quickly? No.

There are many private firms who are already in the marketplace, struggling to make a profit most years, but who will hang in there building up a strong channel of customers and clients to sell equipment and services into. This is a process that will often take 10-20 years. At that point, one of these firms can take on a good, well-researched product and help it fly, with almost no effort. But the CRI might be lost in the wilderness for years, building a final product that had no ready market because the important customers were not consulted, or a market price was not met.

That is not the fault of the CRIs, they are obviously very good at their core competencies, and have lots of facilities that a private business would like to have, but cannot afford in their business model. When the CRIs stopped talking informally and working helpfully with the private sector and instead concentrated on contestable projects from FORST et al, the writing was on the wall. Anyone connected with these institutions will know that many CRI projects have consumed several hundred thousand (or millions) of dollars over a few years, and been quietly mothballed with no useful output. Sure, there have been some outstanding successes too.

My point is that a private sector business would stop a dead-loss project quicker, probably not even start it, because they have already had enough experience in earlier years. The CRIs however, have a fresh crop of employees coming through with no such information, who have usually missed out on those life experiences. And it's not their own money.

Once started on a project, and given the correct market feedback, a private company usually completes the product development and design phases, because their capital is on the line.

CRIs need to look more carefully at licensing out their research and patents to strong market players, as a way of ensuring research is on a sound footing, and will usually end up being used in industry. It's a safe way for both parties to produce leading edge products and services. And NZ needs a lot more of those to sell.