WCC Watch Soapbox: Peter Gilberd – Science for the City

Looking to pick up one of three Northern Ward seats, independent candidate Peter Gilberd is next up on the WCC Watch Soapbox. Questions and comments for Peter can be left below. If you (organisations, readers and candidates) want to contribute your own post you can submit pieces here.

Science for the City

In the face of a protracted national economic downturn and cuts to the Government sector, how does Wellington create much-needed jobs? And how do we reverse the trend of the last fifty years, which has seen New Zealanders working harder than most but slipping in per capita income from a leading position in the 1950s?

In “Wool to Weta”, the late Sir Paul Callaghan made a compelling case for high-technology businesses. More recently, we have seen Professor Shaun Hendy launch the cleverly-named, “Get off the Grass”, co-authored with Sir Paul, which discusses innovation and the development of a knowledge economy. If we are successful, this will not only create jobs, it will provide higher levels of revenue per employee than, for example, service jobs. This will allow us to develop greater wealth, without compromising our environment.

So what does this mean for Wellington? We have three great advantages: a well-educated work force, a city and stunning natural environment that attract talented people, and top-class research institutions full of people with good ideas.

Council is too small to do everything on its own, and partnerships are vital to success. Links between the city and the research organisations are developing well. In the recent earthquakes, GNS Science was to the fore in helping us to understand the cause of the quakes, the immediate hazard, and the long-term implications. And Victoria University is collaborating with Council to research resilience, ecology and the urban environment, with one feature being student internships at Council over summer.

It is imperative that the research community and the city work even more closely together, to develop opportunities that will lead to well-paying jobs and to the growth of supporting industries. Council must strengthen links with the several world-class research organisations within the Wellington region, to ensure that Councillors and Council staff are familiar with the background science and research of economic, social, cultural, and environmental issues.

Council must support the work of the regional economic development agency, “Grow Wellington”, to facilitate better links between researchers and business. And, ultimately, Council must provide financial support, perhaps as grants, to help develop our city’s knowledge economy.

Peter Gilberd medium res

2 responses to “WCC Watch Soapbox: Peter Gilberd – Science for the City

  1. Superb Soapbox Peter. Good on you for raising The Scientific Research bit. If we can learn from Sir Paul Callaghan’s legacy, and put just 50% of his intellect, drive and innovation back into Wellington we
    will have a successful outcome. Council must strengthen it’s international relations, and use role models, and ambassadors to achieve that, whether it is in Science, IT, or many other fields of endeavour. We need to use our icons, past and present as a catalyst for bringing partnerships to fruition, which will create enterprise and jobs as a result. Very stimulating Soapbox Peter. Good one, and good luck with your campaign. You are the sort of person Wellington needs.as a Councillor

    • Thank you for your supportive comments, Simon. Sir Paul Callaghan had great vision and the challenge for the rest of us is to implement it. One way, or another, I’m sure that will happen. All the best for your campaign.

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