Crown Research Institutes

Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are Crown-owned companies that carry out scientific research for the benefit of New Zealand.

CRIs play a unique and important role supporting their sectors to innovate and grow. They strive to address New Zealand’s most pressing issues and achieve economic growth by improving sectors’ productivity and improving the sustainable use of natural resources.

There are seven CRIs, each aligned with a productive sector of the economy or a grouping of natural resources. They are:

AgResearch AgResearch’s purpose is to enhance the value, productivity and profitability of New Zealand’s pastoral, agri-food and agri-technology sector value chains to contribute to economic growth and beneficial environmental and social outcomes for New Zealand.
Institute of Environmental Science Research (ESR) ESR’s purpose is to deliver world class knowledge, research and laboratory services to help New Zealand get the most out of its investment in science and innovation. ESR use the power of science to help their partners and clients solve complex problems and protect people and products in New Zealand, and around the world. ESR's science lies behind the decisions that safeguard people's health, protect our food-based economy, improve the safety of our freshwater and groundwater resources and provide the justice sector with expert forensic science.
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS Science) GNS Science’s purpose is to undertake research that drives innovation and economic growth in New Zealand’s geologically-based energy and minerals industries, that develops industrial and environmental applications of nuclear science, that increases New Zealand’s resilience to natural hazards and that enhances understanding of geological and earth-system processes.
Landcare Research Landcare Research’s purpose is to drive innovation in New Zealand’s management of terrestrial biodiversity and land resources in order to both protect and enhance the terrestrial environment and grow New Zealand’s prosperity.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) NIWA’s purpose is to enhance the economic value and sustainable management of New Zealand’s aquatic resources and environments, to provide understanding of climate and the atmosphere and increase resilience to weather and climate hazards to improve the safety and wellbeing of New Zealanders.
Plant and Food Research Plant & Food Research’s purpose is to enhance the value and productivity of New Zealand’s horticultural, arable, seafood and food and beverage industries to contribute to economic growth and the environmental and social prosperity of New Zealand.
Scion Scion’s purpose is to drive innovation and growth from New Zealand’s forestry, wood product and wood-derived materials and other biomaterial sectors, to create economic value and contribute to beneficial environmental and social outcomes for New Zealand.

Governance of CRIs

The CRIs have two shareholding ministers who act to protect the Crown’s investment in CRIs, the Minister of Science and Innovation and the Minister of Finance.

The governance structure for all CRIs is the same — Shareholding Ministers appoint CRI boards of directors, who in turn appoint the chief executive in accordance with the Companies Act and the constitutions of each CRI.

Our relationship with CRIs

MBIE's ownership and performance role is to monitor the Government’s investment in CRIs.

As part of this role we:

  • provide strategic ownership advice to the shareholding ministers on the financial and non-financial performance of the CRIs
  • work with CRIs to ensure they can deliver optimal outcomes for New Zealand
  • assist with the appointment of directors to CRI boards, in partnership with the Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit.

The CRI toolkit outlines the accountability and performance framework in which CRIs operate.

CRI core funding review

In 2015-16, the Government reviewed CRI core funding. Following this, CRI core funding was moved to form part of the new Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF).

Read the review report [PDF 711KB].

Read more about the new Strategic Science Investment Fund.

The CRI Taskforce recommendations

In February 2010 the CRI Taskforce presented its recommendations on how to enhance the value of New Zealand’s investment in CRIs.

Read the CRI Taskforce recommendations [PDF 875KB]

Four Year Rolling Reviews

Four Year Rolling Reviews provide shareholding ministers with an independent assessment of each CRI’s current effectiveness and future potential in delivering on the purpose and outcomes set out in its Statement of Core Purpose. The reviews provide insights on where performance can be improved and assurance on where the CRI is operating effectively in delivering outcomes that contribute to New Zealand’s economic, social and environmental well-being.

The reviews are an assessment of governance effectiveness, financial viability and sustainability. They also identify opportunities, barriers to success and alignment to government priorities.

Findings from the reviews support CRI Boards in their governance and decision making roles. The reviews are conducted every four years and involve an independent panel working for up 15-20 days. The panel’s work includes document examination, interviews with the CRI Board, management and staff; and interviews with key end-users and stakeholders.

The review panels have consistently found a strong commitment to science that benefits New Zealand; that the organisations are underpinned by solid practices, processes and policies; and good relationships with key customers. They also found the CRIs would benefit from a clearer strategy; strengthened partnerships and interactions with Māori; and delivery of future financial projections.

For detail on each of the reviews that have been undertaken and the action plans that the Boards have put in place to address the concerns, see the reports below.

Plant and Food report [PDF 709KB]

Plant and Food action plan [PDF 49KB]

GNS Science report [PDF 1.27MB]

GNS Science action plan [PDF 66KB]

Landcare research report [PDF 873KB]

Landcare research action plan [PDF 194KB]

ESR report [PDF 1MB]

ESR action plan [PDF 288KB]

Scion report [PDF 866KB]

Scion action plan [PDF 85KB]

NIWA report [PDF 1.2MB]

NIWA action plan [PDF 285KB]

AgResearch report [PDF 1.7MB]

AgResearch action plan [PDF 312KB]

Crown Research Institute Toolkit

The Crown Research Institute (CRI) Toolkit is designed to provide useful information, examples and frameworks to assist CRIs in improving their performance, providing assurance and meeting accountability arrangements.

Read more…