Space innovation hackathon launches in Christchurch

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On May 25, young entrepreneurs and innovators around the globe will come together to take part in ActInSpace®, a 24 hour hackathon aimed at reimagining existing space technologies and data into new applications and products.

This year, for the first time, New Zealand has been invited to host an ActInSpace event and Christchurch will join over 60 cities across five continents in the race to find innovative everyday uses for patents and the underlying data.

The invitation to participate, extended by organisers the French Space Agency and European Space Agency (ESA), recognises the significant strides New Zealand is making in building  a vibrant and competitive space industry ecosystem. It’s also a vote of confidence in our ability to find new ways of overcoming old challenges.

New Zealand’s space ecosystem is evolving and we are well positioned to become a hub for new space activities, and grow and scale space related R&D capability that will stimulate innovation.

Building a diverse, sustainable, productive economy is at the heart of what this Government wants to achieve.  We are committed to developing New Zealand as a hub for high-value, knowledge intensive businesses that create value through innovation and R&D. Increasing R&D is part of how we will help Kiwi firms to move further up the value chain and deliver higher wages.

We want to further grow our talent base in space sciences and space engineering and to attract world-leading firms to our shores. We want to develop an ecosystem with the capability of developing disruptive, innovative technologies and new, exciting opportunities to build a more sustainable and diversified economy that benefits all New Zealanders.

And we know that we have work to do.

Currently New Zealand’s gross expenditure on research and development is 1.28 per cent of GDP – compared to an OECD average of 2.38 per cent. Business expenditure on R&D has been steadily rising, but at 0.64 per cent of GDP it is low – too low - when compared to other small advanced economies, and is well below the OECD average of 1.65 per cent. We want to increase total expenditure on R&D to 2 per cent of GDP over the next ten years.


Sustained increases in government investment will be important to reaching the ambitious target we have set ourselves and we are committed to playing an active role in investing in research, science and innovation, and increasing business innovation overall.

Beyond investment, we are actively encouraging international connectivity through the Innovative Partnership programme which aims to attract future-focused international innovators and firms to undertake R&D and develop their products in New Zealand. Last month I welcomed news that American innovator Kitty Hawk Corporation is developing its fully electric, self-piloting air taxi right here in Canterbury after receiving support through the programme.

As a significant addition to the current system of government support for business R&D, we will also be introducing an R&D tax credit incentive to encourage businesses of all sizes and scales to undertake R&D. It will have a broad reach across our economy and support a wider and more diverse range of firms to innovate.

We that for New Zealand to be successful in the 21st century we must continually innovate; we must respond and adapt to the new challenges we are facing, and we must look for new solutions to old problems.

The Centre for Space Science Technology in partnership with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will be co-hosting ActInSpace in Christchurch, on 25-26 May, in partnership with ChristchurchNZ and the French Embassy.  You can find more information at