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MOD's next move

Trade Me executive Mike O'Donnell — better known as MOD — is going to become a civil servant.
 
Mr O'Donnell has signed on to head an MFAT and NZTE special project, which involves a startup company that will aim to take intellectual property (IP) created by the NZ private sector, and sell it to the world.
 
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) say the new (as-yet-unamed) company is being established to take New Zealand government know-how, systems and intellectual  property (IP) to international markets.
 
An NZTE spokeswoman told NBR the company will have four to five staff.
 
Budget papers released yesterday show the Treasury opposed the scheme, which has a $5.3 million budget allocated over the next four years, according to a table in a March 24 email detailing the Treasury's reaction to NZTE's strategy refreshment plan. That plan included development a new "government to government commercialisation office".
 
The Treasury said at that stage the proposal was still being developed and the need for additional NZTE funding had not been established.
 
"New Zealand government agencies are well respected internationally, and there’s an opportunity to grow export revenue by taking their skills, systems and know-how to market on a commercial basis. This is not in competition with the private sector, rather complementing and partnering with business to maximise value from government IP,” NZTE CEO Peter Chrisp says.
 
“This will be a commercial operation, so it needs a leader with an entrepreneurial background, strong private sector experience and an extensive network. We think Mike is a great fit. We’re delighted to have him on board.”
 
MOD is currently chief operating officer at Trade Me, and is also a professional director and business columnist.
 
He starts in his new role in early September:
 
"I'm passionate about Kiwi IP and stoked at the opportunity to commercialise it and take it global," he says.
 
MOD has Trade Me's representative on the Fair Deal coaltion opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreeement, or at least calling on the government to stand strong against a US-sponsored chapter that would crack down on parallel importing, generic drugs and other consumer-friendly measures. 
 
It will be interesting to see if he can influence the system from within.
 
MOD will report to a joint NZTE/MFAT management board, chaired by Peter Chrisp.
 
 

With reporting by BusinessDesk

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Comments and questions
8

A good appointment based on the job description. Just hope Mike does not get swamped by over conservative bureaucrats from NZTE and MFAT - and other government agencies.

Amazing how these two dysfunctional Government Agencies can use taxpayers $$ and invent a job for MOD. They continue to ignore the need to take action on NZ's continuing poor export performance when the Government's own business growth agenda looks for a major rise in exports by 2025 (from 30 to 40% of GDP).
At best MOD's efforts would make no noticeable contribution to what is required by the Government. I'll bet we never get any future accounting of this new Joint Venture of the incompetent. MOD is going to have a real challenge ahead of him if he survives the first year.

Terrific. Another wacko project from government agencies that any sensible business avoids like the plague. And another tireless self promoter who volunteers to work on the project.

Get ready for years of horrible PR and spin - regardless of what the project actually does.

What experience does this guy have in the commercialisation of IP internationally if any? This project like others will fail because of a lack of the right skills.