Regulation in the research, science and innovation system
This page describes the research, science and innovation system, its objectives and the role of regulation in the system. It lists the main statutes and changes to regulation either planned or in progress.
System description and objectives
Research, Science and Innovation (RSI) are activities in which the Government has a variety of interests. A broad characterisation of these activities as a system would encompass people (around 20,000 researchers), institutions – most notably Universities, Crown Research Institutes and firms – and about $3.5 billion of funding, just under 50% of which is provided by Government. The common factor of the diverse components within this system is that they all in some way relate to the production or utilisation of knowledge.
The production and utilisation of knowledge are critical inputs into almost all Government goals of any significance, including a diverse and productive economy, transition to a low emissions economy, addressing child poverty, improving health and wellbeing, and safeguarding our natural environment.
Government works in this system through setting overall strategy and direction, investing, ownership of some institutions, and creating enabling regulatory frameworks.
The RSI legislation and regulation for which MBIE is responsible relate only to certain functions within this system, and do not describe its entirety or, for the most part, seek to regulate the activity which takes place. The legislation in place most importantly enables MBIE to carry out its functions as a funder, or delegate those functions to other entities. Other pieces of legislation establish related organisations and Crown entities, with minor pieces of legislation dealing with some of New Zealand’s industry levy organisations.
These instruments taken together are too disparate and specialised to constitute a regulatory system; rather they enable certain elements and functions of a much broader set of activity which is driven primarily through strategy and funding. The Government is currently refreshing its RSI strategy, and final publication is targeted for late 2019. This has involved public consultation and targeted consultation with the RSI sector.
A large number of New Zealand’s regulatory systems have the ability to influence levels of innovation, and to a lesser extent, research. For example, the building and standards and conformance systems. These are not dealt with in this system as these related systems do not have the primary function of increasing or regulating innovation.
Ministerial portfolio and key statutes
Research, Science and Innovation
System agencies and their roles
MBIE stewards the RSI system, advises on strategy and develops policy. MBIE also funds RSI activities and delegates funding activity to other entities.
Agencies and statutory entities created by MBIE-owned legislation
Collaboration and information-sharing between system agencies
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) exists between the Ministers of Health and Research, Science and Innovation concerning the Health Research Council. This sets out how Ministers will cooperate on decisions concerning health research structures and funding.
An MOU is being developed between MBIE, Inland Revenue and Callaghan Innovation concerning the R&D Tax Incentive. It will set out the roles and responsibilities of the agencies, and how the agencies will cooperate on policy and operational management of the Incentive.
MBIE is currently leading the development of the New Zealand Research Information System (NZRIS) in collaboration with the RSI sector. This national system will hold information and data about research funding, resources and activities in New Zealand. A first version will be available in early 2020.
Numerous informal mechanisms exist to exchange information and collaborate on policy between agencies with an interest in RSI.
Regulated parties and main stakeholders
The purpose of the RSI legislation administered by MBIE is not to regulate parties – it is enabling legislation which establishes several organisations in the RSI sector, and enables the funding of RSI activities and the collection of some industry research levies.
Key stakeholders include:
- Peak sector bodies
- Research organisations
- Providers of innovation support services.
Processes for engagement with stakeholders
MBIE follows best practice for strategy and policy development and publishes consultation documents and holds public meetings to seek feedback on proposals. We also engage extensively with RSI stakeholders, through both regular forums and ad hoc meetings.
Planned regulatory changes
Date updated: 18 October 2019
MBIE is currently leading policy work on the R&D Tax Incentive, which involves amendments to various pieces of tax legislation, primarily the Income Tax Act.
Regulatory implications of this work are being led by IRD who are responsible for administering the scheme, with support from Callaghan Innovation.
The Taxation (Research and Development Tax Credits) Act 2019 was passed into law in May 2019 and is effective from the 2019/20 income year. The R&D Tax Incentive provides a 15% credit on eligible R&D expenditure. The Act provides limited access to refundable tax credits in the first year of the scheme for businesses in loss (or with insufficient tax liability). Legislation to introduce broader access to refundable tax credits is currently before the House and expected to be passed into law in early 2020, with effect from 1 April 2020.
Minor changes may be made to Ministerial Directions and Gazette Notices, which are made under MBIE’s enabling legislation, in response to the introduction of the R&D Tax Incentive. These will be consequential amendments.
Planned service and operational changes
No major changes are planned at this time.