Over the weekend I was thinking about why so many more young scientists are thinking of sticking around in NZ. That is a distinct shift from perhaps even 5 years ago when the only thing it seemed you could do after finishing a PhD was do a postdoc (maybe I was just unaware then!). I think this is a positive effect flowing on from the work of people like Prof. Paul Callaghan, whose documentary seeks to raise public awareness of the importance of science in NZ’s economy. Paul raises some interesting points, and I think everyone should make time to watch at least some of it.
Of particular interest to me were the statistics on revenue and profit per employee of some of the world's most successful companies. McDonald's, for example, has a revenue of $70K per employee and a profit of $6K per employee. Compare that to Samsung, who with 100,000 employees produce nearly the entire GDP of NZ! They have a revenue of $1.03M per employee and a profit of $135K per employee! It's easy to see in what type of business the profits lie, and put quite simply, we need more of these types of companies in NZ.
There are several NZ companies like Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Rakon, who have revenues per employee in the several hundreds of thousands, and so the early signs are encouraging. But if we had 200 more of these types of companies, NZ would be a very different place to live. Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll get the chance to talk about some of the up and coming companies that one day might make up part of those "200" companies.