Almost half of New Zealand firms are innovating

Business Operations Survey: 2015  –  Media Release

More firms are creating better goods and services through greater spending on research and development in 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today.

“The percentage of firms aiming to come up with better goods and services rose significantly – to a 49 percent ‘innovation rate’ in 2015,” senior manager Stuart Jones said. “This means that almost 1 in 2 firms spent on improving products and processes, research and development (R&D), design, and new ways of marketing.” 

The Business Operations Survey showed that total R&D spending in 2015 was up almost $200 million on 2014, to $1.4 billion. However, this survey is just one measure of estimated R&D spending.

The largest growth in R&D spending was for medium-sized firms – those with 20 to 99 staff. Their R&D spending grew 19 percent (to $434.6 million) compared with 2014. Large firms (with more than 100 employees) invested almost $800 million in R&D, up 15 percent from 2014.

The survey also showed that experienced managers and high-quality goods and services were the keys to exporting for firms. Technical know-how, economies of scale, and lower input costs were seen as the least important factors.

Australia remained a key market for many New Zealand firms.

The top three destinations for firms selling goods and services overseas remained Australia (75.8 percent of New Zealand businesses selling overseas), the United States (39.5 percent), and the United Kingdom (31.9 per cent).1

Only 7.8 percent of business reported trading with China in 2015. This is despite a 60 percent lift in exports of goods and services to China since 2011 (to $10.9 billion in 2015).

The Business Operations Survey is a modular survey that contains a repeating business operations module, an alternating information and communications technology (ICT) or innovation module, and a contracted module. In 2015, the contracted module focused on international engagement.

See Business Operations Survey: 2015 for summary tables and commentary. For more detailed information, see Infoshare.


For media enquiries contact: Stuart Jones, Christchurch, 03 964 8821, [email protected]
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 6 April 2016.

1. The percentages in this sentence have changed since first published. View the Correction page for details.


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