Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has made a
surprising reversal over picking winners in the information and
communications technology industry, a few days after
castigating Labour for proposing a similar policy.
Mr Joyce announced yesterday the Government would invest more
than $1 million to help entrepreneur-driven ICT start-up
companies become investment ready.
The investment was part of the Ministry of Business,
Innovation and Employment's accelerator programme pilot,
which supported the rapid of early stage ICT and digital
However, last week Mr Joyce accused Labour leader David
Cunliffe of having ideas for the ICT industry which were not
up-to-date and poorly thought through.
Labour's ideas included supporting first-time entrepreneurs
with ''garage grants'' along with research and development
grants and accelerated depreciation for start-ups, something
Mr Joyce said was already happening.
The minister accused Labour of having ''off the planet''
ideas when it suggested setting up a Government app store.
But yesterday Mr Joyce said the accelerator programme helped
foster faster economic growth by assisting entrepreneurs to
develop innovative companies to drive New Zealand's economy
into the future.
The recipients for the funding are: Creative HQ, in
Wellington; Canterbury Development Corporation, Christchurch;
and The Icehouse, Auckland.
Labour ICT spokeswoman Clare Curran said Labour's digital
economic upgrade policy included ''garage grants'' to provide
funding for entrepreneurs to turn their innovative ideas into
the Xeros of the future.
Xero was one of New Zealand's highest-profile accounting
software companies, selling mainly into the United States.
''In an astonishingly feat of shamelessness, just four days
later, Mr Joyce has heralded $1 million in funding for ICT
start-ups. Labour's policy provides three times that amount
to ICT entrepreneurs.
''It's clear Steven Joyce has heard the industry welcoming
our policies loud and clear,'' she said.
Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said Mr
Joyce was putting another $1 million on the tab of taxpayers
in the guise of corporate welfare.
''Another week, another million taxpayers must fork out for
Mr Joyce and his officials to pick winners.
"When will this government say enough is enough and put a
stop to corporate welfare?''
Despite what politicians said, they did not help business by
taxing the many to give handouts to a few industries, he