National's $1.29 billion plan to double NZ tech sector

National says it has a $1.29 billion plan to double New Zealand's technology sector in a decade and create at least 100,000 new jobs.

It is pledging to do this by ensuring 90 per cent of households have uncapped ultra-fast broadband, introducing a fast-track technology skills visa, creating a Minister for Technology and offering 1000 tertiary scholarships a year for science-focused degrees.

National leader Judith Collins said with about 50,000 Kiwis heading home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was time to seize the opportunity of the technology sector. She will speak to media about the policy at 11am.

Judith Collins on the campaign trail yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Judith Collins. Photo: Getty Images
New Zealand's technology exports now total $8 billion per annum – equal to our forestry and seafood exports combined and Collins said National would double this to $16 billion by 2030.

National's NZ Tech 2030 Plan includes:

• Establishing a Minister for Technology
• Offering 1000 tertiary scholarships a year targeted for students at low decile schools to undertake science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees
• Establishing a STEM-focused partnership school and restoring funding for specialist ICT graduate schools.
• Introducing a fast-track technology skills visa
• Invest $1 billion in technology infrastructure upgrades with the aim of achieving 100 Mbps uncapped internet speeds for all internet users.
• Establishing three targeted investment funds for tech start-ups worth $200 million each, with the cost split evenly between government and the private sector.
• Developing the world's "most tech-friendly regulation".

They would also relax requirements for investor-class visas and offer anyone completing a full three-year Bachelor's degree or higher-level qualification in tech-related subject areas, and exceeding a specified GPA standard, a path to automatic permanent residency when they complete their qualification.

And National wants to launch a Global PhD Scholarship programme to recruit 50 top STEM PhD candidates from major universities each year to spend at least six months in New Zealand during their doctorate.

National said their plan was expected to cost $690 million over its first four years with the infrastructure upgrades over the following six years expected to cost another $600m, bringing the total cost to $1.29 billion.

National said their plan would leverage the skills of returning Kiwis, diversify New Zealand's exports and generate 100,000 "high-paying, future-proofed" jobs.

"National will give Kiwis with world-class skills and experience the chance to flourish right here and help grow our economy, rather than hit them with higher taxes like Labour will," Collins said.

"Our tech sector has amazing potential.

"If we attract the right talent and create an environment for growth, it could be bigger than our dairy sector in 10 to 15 years."

Collins launched the policy in Auckland today during a visit to Buckley Systems Limited, a Kiwi company that is the world's leading supplier of precision electromagnets.

Founder Bill Buckley was recently named New Zealand Innovator of the Year for his work in developing a Boron-Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) device for the treatment of cancer.

Comments

Excellent proposal, but this should really have been done a decade ago. Let us hope that Labour should match this or exceed. Given the talent NZ has in this sector and the fact that many NZ tech-skilled people returned home due to covid, this is a great time to invest in this sector. Rampant tourism full of unskilled, low-paid jobs and intensive farming polluting the land can not continue indefinitely. We also can not get rich just by selling old houses to each other.

Another empty promise.
$1.29b sounds big but spread it over 10 years it is chicken feed.
This sector is currently booming and is one of the fastest growing in the country. They currently generate over $1b a year in revenue and this is increasing exponentially. The 10 years investment proposal from national is just a years income to this sector. Sounds good but is realistically a nonsense.
Foreign interest and investment is extremely high and the current Govt has already cleared the way to encourage greater investment. Very good of national to again promise what the current Govt have already done.
Behind the eight ball again crusher, have a yarn with your strategy adviser, Cameron Slater, see if he can come up with some made up rubbish you can use. At least that will be entertaining.

There's one underdeveloped country yet with very successful IT sector and they have serious political unrest atm: Belarus. According to the polls 95% of their IT workforce are considering or actively looking for the relocation as they don't feel safe at home anymore. It's tens of thousands of qualified and hardworking specialists with very reasonable income expectations.
Introduce special visas for them until everyone else did, and your market will be filled in no time. Carpe Diem

The biggest problem in the NZ tech sector is the government's cartel like All-of-Government agreements. These agreements were put in place years ago blocking the majority of small NZ IT companies (and freelancers) from government contract work. We only have a small pool of talented IT professionals and the majority of them are young and internationally mobile. The All-of-Government agreements make these young people choose between heading overseas OR working through a major international consultancy (who on sells them to government through the cartel agreement keeping a significant percentage of their earnings while adding no value). Most of the top talent heads overseas. Top shelf IT developers can produce 100 times the output of mediocre developers. Many government advisers seem to think that they can drive down what these people are worth with bureaucracy. We need the government opening up the market instead of shutting it down.

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