Steven Joyce unveiled NZ$3 million for investments in tech and software exporters and NZ$450,000 in seed money for a tech company incubator.
Investing in digital - The Government would invest more than NZ$3 million over the next three years supporting digital technology businesses with the aim of increasing export earnings from the rapidly growing digital sector and ensuring New Zealand made the most of its opportunities, said Economic Development MInister Steven Joyce .
The "Digital Technology High Impact Programme" would be led by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) working in partnership with the NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech) and would support firms working on web services, software, gaming, post production and animation and mobile technology products and services for the global market. Joyce said the programme (which builds on the concept of the successful "Kiwi landing pad" in San Francisco) would "target high-impact, high-value opportunities that companies cannot easily access alone by establishing and deepening alliances with key corporate partners" and would focus specifically on the US, Korea and Australia.
Incubating technology - In his role as Minister of Science and Innovation, Steven Joyce also announced new Government grants of up to NZ$450,000 for start-up technology companies to fund the costs of developing and commercialising inventions and innovative ideas.
"The grants will address a critical gap that early-stage technology businesses face where they need money to meet start-up costs but they are not yet at a stage where investors will commit capital" said Joyce. Based on an Israeli model, the repayable grants would be distributed by a new type of private-sector led "technology incubator" which would add its own funding to provide at least 25% of a start-up company's costs for up to three years.
The funds for the grants and incubators would be distributed by Callaghan Innovation , the new Government agency set up to support and encourage business innovation.
Three for 4G - 2degrees , Telecom , and Vodafone have all obtained management rights of spectrum in the 700 MHz band which will enable them to upgrade to 4G networks. Telecom and Vodafone each successfully bid $66 million (plus GST) for 2x15 MHz, while 2degrees successfully bid for 2x10 MHz at a price of $44 million (plus GST), which Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams said should be enough for it to run a viable 4G network.
"Internationally we have seen that 2x10 MHz is sufficient to run a viable 4G network and provide much faster data speeds to mobile customers," she said.
The outcome leaves one 2x5 MHz block of spectrum unsold. The Government expects to make a decision about the unsold spectrum block in the coming weeks. It could relax the initial 2x15 MHz bidding limit to 2x20 MHz, enabling bidders to compete for the remaining block of spectrum in a supplementary allocation round, or it could retain the unsold lot and allocate it at a later date.
2degrees, Telecom, and Vodafone are now required to upgrade their existing rural cell sites to 4G capability within five years, and to continue expanding cellular coverage. Adams said these requirements were designed to ensure that at least 90% of New Zealanders had access to a 4G network and faster mobile broadband coverage within five years.
Telecommunications Levy - The Commerce Commission released its draft determination of the amount each telecommunications network operator will have to contribute to the Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) for 2012/13. The TDL was introduced in 2011 and is used to fund telecommunications infrastructure including the relay service for the deaf and hearing-impaired, broadband for rural areas, and improvements to the 111 emergency service. It is set at NZ$50 million a year until 2016, after which it will reduce to NZ$10 million. The draft determination proposed that, like last year, around 90% of the levy be paid by Telecom , Chorus and Vodafone with the remainder divided between the smaller providers. Telecom would have to pay just over NZ$19.7 million, Vodafone NZ just over NZ$11.4 million, Chorus just over NZ$11.2 million, Vodafone Fixed NZ$3 million and 2degrees just over NZ$2.2 million. Submissions on the draft determination close on 19 November.
Still too dense - That was the verdict of the Financial Markets Authority ( FMA ) on most disclosure documents. A report into prospectuses and investment statements, which came a year after FMA released its Guidance Note on Effective Disclosure, said most issuers still needed to lift their game. FMA Head of Primary Regulatory Operations Simone Robbers said the disclosure documents for initial public offerings (IPOs) were "so long and dense that we doubt many retail investors would have read them ... such long documents may in fact have deferred members of the public investing in the offers". She warned that most of the documents reviewed would be unlikely to meet the requirements of the Financial Markets Conduct Act which comes into effect next year.