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Follow-on review - Frontier Firms


The Government has asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a follow-on review of progress on the Government’s policy settings, workstreams and initiatives following the Commission’s 2020-21 inquiry on “New Zealand firms: Reaching for the frontier”.


  • Commence review
    September 2022
  • Final report
    April 2023

In response to the final report of the "New Zealand firms: Reaching for the frontier" inquiry, the Government has asked the Commission to determine whether the productivity dial is shifting, and what progress is being made toward a more sustainable and inclusive economy, or whether more radical change is needed. 

This is the first time a government has requested the Commission to undertake a follow-on review to a completed inquiry. 

The Commission will assess the Government’s policies and programmes relating to the inquiry, and to lifting New Zealand’s productivity against the recommendations made in the final report of the inquiry. It will also undertake a ‘helicopter-level assessment’ of whether the Government’s reform agenda is having the intended effects. 

The follow-on review will establish what progress has been made and look at the development and implementation of policy to lift New Zealand’s productivity performance, and outcomes achieved to date, to improve the living standards and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

The review process

The review will be undertaken in three phases:

  • Gather information - description of policies and programmes (e.g., industry transformation plans, innovative partnerships, review of the Research, Science, and Innovation system), already underway at the time of the Frontier Firms inquiry and any new initiatives including those in response to the inquiry recommendations.  
  • Describe progress - the stage policies and programmes have reached and what is still to be done, timeframes and the parties involved, the likelihood of achieving planned steps to full implementation, and changes made in the delivery of existing policies and services. 
  • Evaluation - achievements resulting from the policies and programmes implemented, the impact (or potential impact) on the creation of successful innovation ecosystems in areas of focus, and the growth of successful frontier firms, and New Zealand’s productivity. 

The first two phases will be undertaken using a combination of desk research and targeted interviews with officials and other stakeholders. The evaluation phase will largely be qualitative but may include some limited quantitative metrics. 

Scope of review

Initiatives and programmes included in the follow-on review: 

  • Focused innovation policies 
  • Industry transformation plans 
  • Research, science, and innovation policies 
  • Māori firms 
  • Evaluation and training initiatives 
  • Innovation-conducive regulation