Scott grabs share of research funding

Scott Technology managing director Chris Hopkins. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Scott Technology managing director Chris Hopkins. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Listed Dunedin company Scott Technology is one of 31 businesses to receive a share of government research and development grants, worth in total $140 million over three years.

Scott confirmed in late November - at its annual shareholders' meeting - it would be receiving $5 million in research and development (R&D) funding over the next three years, which equated to the company spending up to a total $25 million during that period. Scott managing director Chris Hopkins said when contacted, the government grants, which were 20% of any R&D spent and refunded on a quarterly basis, would be split among further development of its existing meat robotics, dairying and superconductor developments.

''It can be split on all aspects of research and development, and is [entirely] flexible on how much can be spent each quarter, depending on requirements,'' Mr Hopkins said. All government innovation support programmes were administered by Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand's new high-tech headquarters for Kiwi businesses, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said yesterday.

The R&D ''growth grants'', introduced last year in a change to R&D funding, were designed to encourage more R&D be undertaken by New Zealand businesses.

''They provide up to $5 million co-funding a year to mid-sized and large New Zealand-based companies that are experienced in doing R&D,'' Mr Joyce said in a statement.

While best known over decades for manufacturing automated production lines for export, Scott has through acquisitions and joint ventures diversified into robotic lamb boning, automated dairy milking, superconductor motors and mining-sector sample analysis equipment.

Among new R&D developments, Mr Hopkins said Scott was beginning more development of its robotics for the Australian beef sector.

Mr Hopkins said after two years of receiving funding, Scott could be considered for a further two-year funding extension.

Mr Joyce said for companies to qualify for a growth grant, they had to commit to spend at least $300,000, and at least 1.5% of their revenue on R&D in New Zealand.

''These companies have the potential to grow further and faster through the innovation this support will foster,'' Mr Joyce said.

There was now a total of $566 million available over four years, at $141.5 million a year, through the Callaghan Innovation's business research and development grant schemes, he said.

- simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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