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Bioscience Survey: 2009
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  15 February 2010
Technical notes

This section provides a technical description of the data that has been used to compile this release. It focuses on the data quality and the definition and processes used for data collection and analysis.

Data collection

The Bioscience Survey 2009 was a postal census of all organisations meeting the population selection criteria. There were two ways in which an organisation could meet the criteria. The first was if certain bioscience-specific keywords were in an organisation name on the Statistics NZ Business Frame. Statistics NZ then supplemented this population with lists from New Zealand government funding agencies and New Zealand bioscience associations, as well as the biotechnology indicator in the Research and Development Survey 2008.

The majority of the questionnaire uses a two-year reference period. Financial information was requested from respondents for the 2009 financial year. The survey was posted out in August 2009.

Comparison between the Biotechnology Survey (2004, 2005, 2007) and the Bioscience Survey (2009)

In 2009 a new framework shifted the survey's focus from biotechnology to bioscience, which builds upon and encompasses biotechnology. A number of changes have taken place between the surveys 2007 and 2009 and are described below.

Bioscience includes agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture, forestry, microbes, and nutraceuticals and supplements, which may not have been included by respondents in biotechnology collections. See the definition section for further detail of the bioscience and biotechnology definitions.

The change from biotechnology to bioscience has been undertaken because it was thought to provide a more accurate breakdown and be easier for organisations in the active and research groups to complete. There is also a growing interest in the wider application of technologies that underpin the biotechnology and bioscience sector in the New Zealand economy.

The population selection methods differ from the Biotechnology Survey to the Bioscience Survey. Methods under criteria two from the previous Biotechnology Survey are no longer used and an additional list, the membership list of Natural Products New Zealand, is now used. For further information see the Target population section.

In order to determine the impact of moving from biotechnology to bioscience the number of likely biotechnology organisations for 2009 was calculated. There are a total of 213 biotechnology organisations, made up of 93 core organisations, 84 active organisations and 33 research organisations. The biotechnology figures were calculated by removing any organisation in either the core or active group that was selected from the Natural Products New Zealand membership only. Organisations were also removed from the active group for the biotechnology 2009 figures if they had indicated in their 2007 response that they were not involved in biotechnology. 

The nature of the change in definition and population selection has effected the organisations in scope, and has also impacted on the data. Therefore, caution needs to be taken when making comparisons between data from the Biotechnology Survey and the Bioscience Survey.

There are now three versions of the questionnaire: the main form, where organisations are asked to identify whether or not bioscience is their main activity; the research form, which is sent to research organisations (for further detail see the Sector breakdown section); and the university form, which is sent to university departments. On the main form only organisations that answer that bioscience is the main activity complete the financial and employment sections. Neither the research and the university form types have the initial question that asks whether bioscience is the main activity or not.

The intellectual property rights and patents section has been expanded, requesting information in greater detail than in previous surveys.

Sector breakdown

Throughout this release, the bioscience sector and respondents have been classified to the following groups; core, active, and research.

The core group of organisations are those for which bioscience is the main activity and are focused on the production of bioscience products. They can be involved in the following areas: human therapeutics and pharmaceutical development and manufacture, nutraceuticals and supplements, functional foods with health claims, the development and manufacturing of medical devices, equipment and diagnostic tools, animal health and advanced animal and plant breeding, and microbes.

The active group of organisations operates in fields other than bioscience, but uses bioscience processes for the manufacturing of their products. This includes organisations such as wineries, breweries, food companies that use bioscience as part of the manufacturing process, medical and diagnostic labs, lab services, the sale and distribution of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, equipment and diagnostic tools, and traditional animal and plant breeding.

Respondents self-select into either the core or active group at the beginning of the survey.

Research organisations are identified prior to the post out and are sent a separate version of the survey, without the core or active split. The research group is made up of those organisations involved in the research and development of bioscience processes and includes the tertiary education sector, Crown research institutes, and other research organisations. These include those organisations with either ANZSIC code P810200 (education) or M69100 (scientific research), with a business type code of 05 to 20. This included all universities and Crown research institutes.

Measurement errors

Given the nature of the data collected, there are limitations on the level of accuracy that can be expected from the Bioscience Survey 2009. For many organisations in New Zealand, bioscience represents only a small portion of their operation, and for this reason it is hard to separate out bioscience work from other work. As a result, financial and employment information were only collected from organisations in the core sector. Detailed definitions of what should and should not be included as bioscience were provided on the questionnaire, and phone-in help was available to respondents.

Target population

The target population for the Bioscience Survey is all enterprises in New Zealand whose predominant activity is likely to be modern bioscience.

The population selection methodology was similar to that used by Statistics NZ in the Biotechnology Survey 2004, 2005, and 2007. There were some modification: criteria two, the second key-word search of the Business Frame, and the ANZSIC code list were removed, as analysis showed that few enterprises selected in the past via this method alone had been engaged in biotechnology. The second modification was the inclusion of organisations that were members of Natural Products New Zealand.

The selection unit for inclusion in the population was set at the enterprise level.

The survey population and population selection criteria are defined as:

(a) All enterprises on the Statistics NZ Business Frame with any of the following keywords in their legal and/or trading names:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Bioprocessing
  • Bioreagent
  • Biotechnology
  • Biotransformation(s)
  • Chromatography
  • Clonal
  • Concentrates
  • Extract
  • Extraction
  • Fluid extraction
  • Functional foods
  • Genetic(s)
  • Genomic(s)
  • Industrial microbiology
  • Monoclonal
  • Nutraceutical(s)
  • Proteomic(s)
  • Supercritical
  • Transgenic

(b) Enterprises on the NZBIO membership list
(c) All institutions on the 2008 Foundation for Research, Science and Technology lists of applicants receiving funding to carry out bioscience-related research and/or development activities
(d) Local authority sewerage treatment facilities
(e) All Crown research institutes
(f) University departments that have an interest in bioscience
(g) Microbiology units in metropolitan hospitals
(h) The New Zealand Blood Service
(i) All enterprises from Statistics NZ and Ministry of Research, Science and Technology’s Research and Development Survey 2008 that reported biotechnology
(j) All enterprises on the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise lists of applicants receiving funding to carry out bioscience-related research/or development activities
(k) Enterprises on the Natural Products New Zealand membership list
(l) Enterprises reporting biotechnology in the Statistics NZ Biotechnology Survey 2007.

Response rate

The target overall response rate for the Bioscience Survey 2009 was 90 percent. A sector breakdown of response rates is given below:

  • 93 percent response rate achieved for core and active organisations
  • 100 percent response rate achieved for research organisations
  • 93 percent response rate achieved overall.

The population for the Bioscience Survey 2009 consisted of 465 enterprises.

Data processing

Checks were carried out on the data to assess any inconsistent data between various sections. Where inconsistent data was uncovered it was either corrected, based on existing information, or followed up with respondents.

No imputation was conducted for unit non-response, however manual imputation was carried out for item non-response. Imputed values were either based on that same respondent’s previous response, if that wasn’t available then a similar respondent.

As the collection is a census of all enterprises for whom bioscience is thought to be the main activity any unit non-response was considered to not be involved in bioscience, therefore no weights were adjusted.


ANZSIC: Australia and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification system – NZ version, 2006.

Bioscience: The development and application of knowledge of the way plants, animals and humans function for the development of products and services.

Bioscience activities may occur in the following areas:

  • agriculture feedstock and chemicals
  • aquaculture, horticulture and forestry
  • human and animal therapeutics and diagnostics (including clinical trial providers)
  • medical devices and equipment
  • research testing and medical laboratories
  • microbes
  • biotechnology.

Biotechnology: The application of science and technology to living organisms as well as parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services.

The following list of techniques was published by the OECD in 2004 as an interpretative guide as to what biotechnology includes:

  • DNA – the coding: genomics, pharmaco-genetics, gene probes, DNA sequencing/synthesis/amplification, genetic engineering
  • Proteins and molecules – the functional blocks: protein/peptide sequencing/synthesis, lipid/protein glyco-engineering, proteomics, hormones, and growth factors, cell receptors/signalling/pheromones
  • Cell and tissue culture, and engineering: cell/tissue culture, tissue engineering, hybridisation, cellular fusion, vaccine/immune stimulants, embryo manipulation
  • Process biotechnologies: bioreactors, fermentation, bioprocessing, bioleaching, bio-pulping, bio-bleaching, biodesulphurisation, bioremediation, and biofiltration
  • DNA and RNA vectors: gene therapy, viral vectors
  • Other: bioinformatics, nanobiotechnologies, other.

Enterprise: A business or service entity operating in New Zealand. It can be a company, partnership, trust, estate, incorporated society, producer board, local or central government organisation, voluntary organisation or self-employed individual.

Research and development (R&D): Research and experimental development comprising creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge. Any activity classified as R&D is characterised by originality. Investigation is a primary objective.

Statistics New Zealand Business Frame: A register of all businesses operating in New Zealand.


Information obtained from Statistics New Zealand may be freely used, reproduced, or quoted unless otherwise specified. In all cases Statistics New Zealand must be acknowledged as the source.


While care has been used in processing, analysing and extracting information, Statistics New Zealand gives no warranty that the information supplied is free form error. Statistics New Zealand shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly, or indirectly, of any information, product or service.

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