Crown Research Institutes

Page updated 11 November 2013

Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are Crown-owned companies, or Crown entity companies, whose purpose is to carry out scientific research for the benefit of New Zealand.

CRIs are established by the Crown Research Act 1992 (Legislation website), are Crown entity companies under the Crown Entities Act 2004 (Legislation website) and are registered as companies and are bound by the provisions of the Companies Act 1993 (Legislation website). Not all the provisions of the Crown Entities Act 2004 apply to CRIs. CRIs have been encouraged to take a greater role in commercialising their own research thrrough the establishment of subsidiaries and joint ventures. CRIs are not fully commercial but need to ensure appropriate commercial disciplines are applied while their scientific purposes are fulfilled. As Crown entity companies, ownership must remain 100% with the Crown.

The purpose of every CRI is to undertake research. In fulfilling this purpose, CRIs are required to:

  • Ensure that research is undertaken for the benefit of New Zealand
  • Pursue excellence in all their activities
  • Comply with applicable ethical standards
  • Promote and facilitate the application of the results of research and technological developments
  • Be a good employer
  • Exhibit a sense of social responsibility
  • Maintain their financially viability.

Unlike SOEs, the Crown does not expect CRIs to maximise profit, but to cover costs of capital.

Each CRI must have two or more Shareholding Ministers; one is the Minister of Finance and another is the relevant portfolio Minister. The board of directors of a CRI is appointed by the Shareholding Ministers and is accountable to the Shareholding Ministers for the performance of that CRI. CRI boards are required to produce an annual Statement of Intent and an Annual Report, both of which must be presented to the House of Representatives by the relevant portfolio Minister. Shareholding Ministers may remove board members by shareholder resolution under the Companies Act 1993. Under the Companies Act 1993, an alternative procedure for removing board members may be followed if allowed by the company’s constitution.

Further information on the governance and accountability regime for CRIs is detailed in the Owner's Expectations Manual. The manual is designed to help boards to operate efficiently in their roles and to clarify their responsibilities. It also takes account of the particular expectations of board members in companies owned by the Crown, as opposed to private or publicly listed companies.

From 1 February 2011 the Ministry of Science and Innovation became the primary monitoring department for CRIs, with the Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit (COMU) moved to a second-opinion role in relation to the CRI’s financial performance.  COMU will retain a key role in the board appointments advice process, working alongside the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Information on individual CRIs can be located at Portfolio of Entities - CRIs.