Outcome 5: A dynamic business environment fostering innovation and international connections

Aotearoa New Zealand needs a business environment that is dynamic, where businesses can respond to new opportunities and resources are allocated to their most productive use.


A dynamic business environment that fosters innovation and international connections is essential for economic growth and prosperity. MBIE works to create this environment by providing support for businesses to innovate, investing in research and development, and promoting Aotearoa New Zealand on the international stage.

Digital innovation and development

MBIE led the cross-agency development of Te Rautaki Matihiko mō Aotearoa – The Digital Strategy for Aotearoa. The strategy and supporting action are based on 3 main pillars: Mahi Tika – Trust, Mahi Tahi – Inclusion and Mahi Ake –Growth. It includes targets around high speed internet availability for all New Zealanders, making the digital and ICT sector a leading export earner, and limiting cyber incidents. As a living strategy, it will continue to evolve and change with technology, helping people to adapt to new issues and opportunities.

The development of digital connectivity infrastructure is a vital component of future growth, productivity and global competitiveness. Significant funding has been invested over several years to improve the national communications infrastructure, including through initiatives focusing on ultra-fast broadband, rural broadband, mobile black spots and marae connectivity.

We continue to see progress in improving connectivity in rural and remote areas. As at 30 June, nearly 81,000 rural homes and businesses have improved broadband through the Rural Broadband Initiative and over 31,000 rural households and businesses have improved broadband capacity through the Rural Capacity Upgrade programme. In addition, we continue to receive applications for the Remote Users Scheme from households or businesses where broadband is not currently available. In April 2023, the 400th mobile tower had been delivered through the Rural Connectivity Group. Further planned rollout of 5G services to around 55 towns and expanded mobile wireless coverage in rural areas will continue lift connectivity for many New Zealanders.

MBIE also led development of the report Lifting Connectivity in Aotearoa: Government Statement of Intent for Improving Digital Connectivity. It tells the story of, and builds on, the work done by successive governments and the private sector to invest in improving connectivity. Cyclone Gabrielle highlighted the importance of access to reliable mobile and internet services to provide timely information both through the response and recovery of adverse events.

In June 2023, spectrum management rights for 3.5 gigahertz and the Ka Hao fund were transferred to the interim Māori Spectrum Commission for the benefit of Māori. This followed the signing, in February 2022, of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Crown and Māori, marking the start of an enduring agreement to address Māori interests in the spectrum. It establishes a strong foundation to accelerate Māori participation and innovation in spectrum related industries in the digital economy, delivering economic, cultural, social and environmental benefits. It also enables Māori to play a significant role in the telecommunications industry. MBIE has had an important role in this mahi, working closely with colleagues at Te Puni Kōkiri.

Investing in research

We are responsible for the Endeavour Fund, the country’s largest contestable research fund. It provides investment for projects to help build a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. In the 2022 funding round, 443 applications were received, 71 were approved for funding and over $236.5 million was allocated. These were selected by the Science Board, an independent statutory board, following review by independent experts from Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas. Successful proposals include:

  • Developing new technology to reduce geothermal carbon emissions.
  • Forecasting future threats, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
  • Using artificial intelligence to make weather and climate projections.
  • Creating soilless precision farming through ultra-clean water production.

Our research funding and support programmes aim to build a high-performing science and innovation system. This year, various funds and partnerships enabled innovation that helped support communities. For instance, working with NZ Police on the development of a tool that helps reducing drug harm, and funding food safety science and research that will benefit us as a food exporting nation.

Funding was also provided as part of the science response to Cyclone Gabrielle, from the Strategic Science Investment Fund. This helped accelerate the development of RiskScape, a risk assessment tool used to evaluate the potential impacts of natural hazards on communities and assets. RiskScape enables decision makers to investigate community or sector risks and provides a transparent evidence base for the costs and benefits of interventions. It also models the direct damage and monetary losses in a flood damage analysis giving users the tools to understand and predict consequence, in order to plan for, mitigate and adapt to flooding events. In addition, RiskScape won ‘Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Public Good’ at the 2022 NZ Hi-Tech Awards.

Global connections through outer space initiatives

As part of our space and advanced aviation related work, MBIE advanced the Airspace Integration Trials Programme, which supports the safe testing, development and market validation of advanced uncrewed aircraft in New Zealand. Established in 2019, the programme is a collaboration between MBIE, the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority and Airways New Zealand. The programme has 12 industry partners, who are testing and demonstrating uncrewed aircraft for various purposes including passenger transport, cargo delivery, agricultural services, and hazard management and monitoring services.

MBIE also supported the New Zealand Space Agency’s Rongowai project, a partnership with NASA and Air New Zealand to monitor the environmental signs of climate change. This is achieved by a next generation sensor mounted on an Air New Zealand Q300 (which took its first flight in September 2022), collecting scientific data as it flies across Aotearoa.

Looking to the future

One way we are preparing for the future is through Long-term Insights Briefings. We presented a Long-term Insights Briefing to Parliament in November 2022 that explores how the future of business in Aotearoa New Zealand may be shaped by 2 trends: growth in purpose led businesses and the use of blockchain technology. Long-term Insights Briefings provide the opportunity to enhance public debate on long-term issues and usefully contribute to future decision making, not only by government but also by Māori, business, academia, not-for-profit organisations, communities and the wider public.

Two people in lab coats and safety glasses looking at a solution in a beaker.