Portfolio 1: Building New Zealand’s innovation capacity

Portfolio 1 will continue over the 10-year lifetime of the Challenge and will examine human capacity (people and their skills), and relational capacity (networks between researchers and industry), within New Zealand’s innovation system.

Portfolio 1 Spearhead project: Human and relational capacity

Human capacity

Human capacity is the set of skills and attributes our researchers have, that enables and drives them to be entrepreneurial and able to identify needs or opportunities of a user organisation.

In New Zealand, this capacity also needs to include an understanding of culturally appropriate ways of collaborating with Māori organisations, so training in tikanga (the correct way of doing things) and kaupapa Māori (Māori principles and understandings) would also enhance human capacity.


Relational capacity

Relational capacity is the set of capabilities and experience that allows researchers to work, network and engage with industry or other partners.

While human capacity should allow researchers to propose paths to fill needs and opportunities through technological means, an ability to develop and sustain relationships with user organisations to facilitate knowledge diffusion – in both directions – is equally important.

Here, research is based on the open innovation concept, which theorises that to create value enterprises need to acquire, assimilate and exploit knowledge from internal resources, but also external sources.

This requires enterprises to connect with others. How enterprises (and in this case, research teams) connect is dependent on their capacity to connect.

The project will include observational research through multiple, parallel, real-time case studies on the research process and industry engagement.

The aim is to understand what works best in the New Zealand context, evaluate the effectiveness of our work, and learn from it as we go.

Since the Māori economy has distinctive features, parallel case-studies of co-innovation projects between Challenge researchers and Māori organisations are included in the project.

Research findings will be shared with the wider science community on an ongoing basis.


The team

  • Portfolio 1 co-leader – Dr Katharina Ruckstuhl
    • Ngāi Tahu Rangitāne. University of Otago – leader, Māori innovation, Mātauranga Māori, Māori small business.
  • Portfolio 1 co-leader – Associate Professor Urs Daellenbach
    • Victoria University of Wellington - social capital, strategy, innovation.
  • Professor Sally Davenport
    • University of Victoria – SfTI Director.
  • Professor Colin Campbell-Hunt
    • University of Otago – strategy, business growth.
  • Lawrence Green
    • leadership and innovation consultant & facilitator.
  • Professor Jarrod Haar
    • Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Mahuta. Auckland University of Technology – human resources, entrepreneurship, Māori business.
  • Maui Hudson
    • Whakatohea, Te Mahurehure, Ngā Ruahine. Waikato University - mātauranga Māori, Māori and science sector.
  • Associate Professor Merata Kawharu
    • Ngāti Whatua, Ngāpuhi. University of Otago – mātauranga Māori, tribal economies.
  • Dr Conor O'Kane
    • University of Otago – academic entrepreneurship, strategy.
  • Dr Diane Ruwhiu
    • Ngāpuhi. University of Otago – Māori small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • Professor Paul Tapsell
    • Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Raukawa. University of Otago – Māori entrepreneurship, mātauranga Māori.
  • Dr Paul Woodfield
    • Auckland University of Technology – innovation, entrepreneurship, family business.