Alf’s mates in the Eketahuna Club are pretty keen for him to have a chat with Steven Joyce about some of the R&D funding handouts he loves to toss to people who seriously look like they don’t much need it.
They are livid that some of this boodle has been tossed to Oracle’s boatbuilder – potentially worth up to $17.25 million, according to media reports.
The Herald mentions the money today:
Warkworth-based business Core Builders Composites, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle Racing, is one of the recipients of three-year research and development (R&D) grants distributed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The company, which is led by Kiwis Tim Smyth and Mark Turner, manufactures cutting-edge sailing technology and is Oracle Team USA’s official boatbuilder. After moving its workshop to New Zealand in 2010 it built the AC72 catamarans that Oracle used to defend the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013.
He is giving them our money but won’t tell us how much.
But he said the company had so far claimed “considerably less than half a million dollars”. That money had allowed the firm to create 26 new jobs and to expand into new markets.
Core Builder Composites is quoted, too, as saying it had received only $252,000 so far and its forecast R&D spending was much lower than the maximum amount.
It said the money would be used to help the company survive beyond the America’s Cup cycle, and it was hoping to be involved in the Auckland SkyPath project if it went ahead.
The Callaghan Innovation grants were allocated to 23 high-tech companies by Mr Joyce in August.
So how come the fuss now?
It’s because the ministry published the maximum value of the Core Builders Composite’s grant on its website last week. The grants allowed an eligible company to claim back 20 per cent of R&D costs – to a maximum of $17.25 million over three years.
Wanna bet Team New Zealand has sniffed out this trough and got its snout in there too?
You will lose, apparently.
Team NZ did not apply for the subsidy given to the Oracle boatbuilder because it was already receiving Government funding, team boss Grant Dalton says.
Dalton said his syndicate had been aware of the Callaghan Innovation funding for a few years.
“But it would have been inappropriate for us to apply for it when we were already getting government funding,” he said.
The Government provided $5 million to the New Zealand syndicate after the 2013 America’s Cup defeat to keep it afloat while it put together a proposal for another bid.
While Dalton did not comment further, the Herald has sniffed out “a source” who said the syndicate was “pissed off” any government money had gone to a company owned by Larry Ellison, who happens to be a billionaire magnate.
Labour MP Trevor Mallard echoed this comment, saying he was horrified to know the Government was backing an overseas competitor.
Alf is horrified too that Kiwis are coughing up because Larry can’t chip in for his own R&D.
He is also horrified that anyone is interested in Mallard’s opinion.