Callaghan Innovation: A new Advanced Technology Institute for New Zealand

Friday 18th January 2013
Article written by: Harriet Tregonning

In December 2012 the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officially formed an Advanced Technology Institute, to be called Callaghan Innovation, with locations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. 

With a budget of $166 million spread over four years, ATI’s remit is to “get our best, most innovative ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace more quickly”. While the institute was expected to be operational from the beginning of December 2012, it has been delayed.

Callaghan Innovation will focus on the high value manufacturing sector, which generates 29% of New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) according to a report generated for the Ministry of Science and Innovation in April 2012[1]. Specific focus will be on food and beverage, (the most significant subsector), agri-tech, digital technologies, health technologies, therapeutics manufacturing, and high-value wood products.

Services to be provided by Callaghan Innovation

Callaghan Innovation will be both an intermediary - helping to build and foster capabilities within New Zealand’s innovation system - and a service provider. It will help build links between local and international research organisations and act as a portal for access to research and development expertise, grants, and commercialisation support. Some existing business development and research and development grants will also be accessed via Callaghan Innovation rather than current agencies. The institute will work in close partnership with existing organisations including New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and the Crown Research Institutes (CRIs), particularly Industrial Research Limited.

Specific capabilities to be developed within ATI include:

  • Applied biotechnology
  • Applied chemistry
  • Advanced materials
  • Digital technologies
  • Manufacturing and services processes and systems
  • Measurement for analytical testing, standardisation and certification

The Powering Innovation Report

Impetus for creating an ATI came from the report on ‘Powering Innovation’, prepared in April 2011 for the former Ministry of Science and Innovation by an independent expert panel – Professor John Raine, Head of the School of Engineering and Pro Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Enterprise at AUT, Professor Mina Teicher, previously director general of the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology and Phil O’Reilly, Business New Zealand CEO[2].

This study identified that industry participants require a customer-focussed public research organisation with easy access to expertise and infrastructure, flexible intellectual property ownership, and benefit arrangements to assist with  marketing New Zealand as an ‘innovation centre’. To this end ATI is designed to be business-friendly, industry-focussed and results-driven.  Whether it will rise to the challenge remains to be seen. 

Prior to collaborating with other parties or applying for grants, we recommend that Government, academic and industry organisations alike obtain legal advice to ensure wherever possible that there is clarity around issues of confidentiality and ownership and to   ensure that any agreed contractual arrangement meets and accurately represents each party’s commercial goals.   In many cases, public disclosure or sale of a new product or service will limit the options available to protect the product or service, for example, public disclosure of an invention prior to filing a patent application can invalidate the application. 

If you require further information, please contact Shelley Rowland


[1] High Value Manufacturing Services Final Report: A sector profile prepared for the Ministry of Science and Innovation by Martin, Jenkins & Associates Ltd. Available from:

[2] Powering Innovation – Improving access to and uptake of R&D in the high value manufacturing and services sector. An independent report commissioned by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. Commissioned by MSI and prepared by members of an independent panel – Prof John Raine (Head of the School of Engineering and Pro Vice-Chancellor Innovation and Enterprise at AUT), Prof Mina Teicher (Director of the Emmy Noether Research Institute for Mathematics at Barllan University Israel; former Director General at the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology) and Philip O’Reilly (Business New Zealand CEO). 28th April 2011. Available from:

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