Speaking at the institute’s annual international conference in Auckland recently, Breault challenged New Zealand to forget about value-added.
“You have the brains to go to value creation,” he said. “Go to the top of the food chain.”
Breault noted that Steve Jobs made $4 for every iPhone while China gets $1.
Breault is chair of Breault Research Organization in Tucson, USA, software and consulting services company specialising in the development and analysis of optical systems.
For many years, Breault has been instrumental in helping optics firms round the world work together in clusters to maximise their competitiveness.
“I believe in New Zealand but I’m not sure you’ve got the right emphasis,” he says.
“I know you have tremendous potential but one of the elephants in the room is that you have wonderful institutions and universities, very bright graduates, and you’re losing them.”
Breault added that New Zealand has brains and resources, but economic development is taking place in other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.
“Local firms need to go multinational in order to create technologies here.”
KPMG’s head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot agrees that New Zealand needs to bring value-creating ideas back onshore.
He says the challenge of keeping people in New Zealand came through very clearly in recent research for ‘KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2011: Realising global potential‘.
“We need to demonstrate to our young people – particularly in the agricultural sector where we can leverage their abilities the greatest – that they can have real international exciting vibrant career here. And we haven’t done that well [as country].”
He adds that, with the exception of Fonterra, we are not selling the message effectively.
“We need to get that message right.”