Shaun Hendy – FRSNZ – Professor of Physics, The University of Auckland (New Zealand)

Shaun Hendy

Presentation at III Multicore World

Get off the grass with Multicore

Prof. Shaun Hendy, FRSNZ


New Zealanders work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world. As Ernest Rutherford put it: “We’ve got no money, so we’ve got to think.” Yet on a per capita basis, the OECD produces four times as many patents as New Zealand. Why is this? What determines a country’s capacity to innovate?

In this talk, I will take a quantitative and comparative look at New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem using data from international trade, patent and scientific databases. This analysis illustrates the important role that networks and collaboration play in the production of new knowledge. In particular, we find that large cities consistently produce more patents per capita than smaller cities because they connect people with diverse expertise and combine ideas in new, complementary ways. The challenge for New Zealand is to find ways to build connected communities of knowledge workers and businesses that are as effective that those that exist in larger population centres.

We also find that high productivity countries invent and export many highly complex products, while low productivity countries tend to export a small number of commodity products. If New Zealand is to boost its long run economic growth rate, then it must diversify its exports, while building scale in its industries. New Zealand must open up the exchange of information and ideas within its innovation sector and become an exporter of knowledge rather than nature.

Can Multicore New Zealand lead the way in innovation by building scale and diversity through open collaboration? 



Professor Shaun Hendy FRSNZ is a physicist at the University of Auckland and holds an Industry and Outreach Fellowship from Callaghan Innovation. Shaun has won many accolades for his scientific research, including the New Zealand Association of Scientists Research Medal in 2010 and ANZIAM’s E. O. Tuck medal for applied mathematics in 2013. Shaun writes a blog, ‘A Measure of Science’, at, has a monthly column in Unlimited Magazine and appears regularly on Radio New Zealand Nights as physics correspondent. In 2013 he was awarded the Royal Society’s Callaghan Medal and the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize for his contributions to communicating science.


Page at University of Auckland here

Get off the Grass: Kickstarting New Zealand’s Innovation Economy – Book that inspired this talk, by Prof Shaun Hendy and Sir Paul Callaghan

Twitter @hendysh