Sustainable economic growth for New Zealand: An optimistic myth-busting approach

Physicist Sir Paul Callaghan presents convincing evidence to explore how New Zealand must move towards an explicit focus on creating greater wealth-generation per capita. As one might expect from a physicist it’s a data-rich presentation.

Some of the myths he busts:

  • New Zealand is an egalitarian society
  • New Zealand is clean and green
  • We don’t need to be more prosperous
  • We need to work harder to be more prosperous
  • More tourism would be good for the New Zealand economy
  • You can’t manufacture in New Zealand
  • New Zealand is small so we need to specialise in the knowledge economy

I find myself fully in accord with his analysis and prescription. In short, he advocates a government commitment towards a country “where talent wants to live”… the talent necessary to create 100 companies with 100 inspired entrepreneurs such as those who have established global niche businesses of which most people in NZ have never heard. Moffat Ltd? Temperzone?

I have committed to presenting this material to my students of BSNS 5391 Innovation & Entrepreneurship this week. I am considering sending out my students on a search to summarise the lessons from the founding and growth stories of New Zealand’s top ten technology companies. Collectively, they generate $3.9billion/year in exports. And only ONE is a biotechnology company.

One of the lessons I draw is to consider refocusing my teaching of innovation and entrepreneurship to those undergoing science, engineering, and mathematics education. The Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP)  is an exemplary program in this regard.


Callaghan, P. (n.d.). StrategyNZ: Mapping our future. Sustainable Future Institute. Retrieved May 24, 2011b, from

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