Budget will include a $73.5m boost for National Science Challenges

The Government has announced the final 10 selected National Science Challenges and a $73.5 million boost over four years to fund them, as part of Budget 2013.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today said the challenges were designed to take a more strategic approach to science investment by targeting a series of goals which, if they are achieved, would have a major and enduring benefit for New Zealand.

“The Government is supporting this with an additional $73.5 million of funding over four years in addition the $60 million allocated to the Challenges in Budget 2012. It is anticipated a total of $133.5 million in new funding will be allocated to the challenges over the next four years.”

The 10 research areas identified as New Zealand’s first National Science Challenges are:

* Aging well – harnessing science to sustain health and wellbeing into the later years of life.

* A better start – improving the potential of young New Zealanders to have a healthy and successful life.

* Healthier lives – research to reduce the burden of major New Zealand health problems.

* High value nutrition – developing high-value foods with validated health benefits.

* New Zealand’s biological heritage – protecting and managing our biodiversity, improving our biosecurity, and enhancing our resilience to harmful organisms.

* Our land and water – research to enhance primary sector production and productivity while maintaining and improving our land and water quality for future generations.

* Life in a changing ocean – understanding how we can exploit our marine resources within environmental and biological constraints.
* The deep south – understanding the role of the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean in determining our climate and our future environment.

* Science for technological innovation – enhancing the capacity of New Zealand to use physical and engineering sciences for economic growth.

* Resilience to nature’s challenges – research into enhancing our resilience to natural disasters.

The Challenges provide an opportunity to align and focus New Zealand’s research on large and complex issues by drawing scientists together from different institutions and across disciplines to achieve a common goal through collaboration.

“We have a small and reasonably fragmented science system. Aligning and focusing research in this way will help the Government and New Zealand to get better value from its annual investment of $1.3 billion in science and innovation,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Challenges are central to ensuring that Government investment in science delivers benefits for New Zealand.”

After engagement with the science sector and the public through The Great NZ Science Project, an independent panel recommended a number of challenge areas to the Government.

Implementation of the Challenge programme will involve government officials, members of the independent panel, the science sector and end-users.

The Government expects  three to four of the Challenges will get under way the year with the balance starting up in 2014.

More information about the challenges can be found at http://www.msi.govt.nz/update-me/major-projects/national-science-challenges

Anthony Scott, chief executive of Science New Zealand. comments on the National Science Challenges here. He says they are important in two aspects – they will each contribute hugely to New Zealand’s social, environmental and economic prosperity; and overall, they will inspire a generation of young people to see the opportunities for themselves and their country in science-based innovation.

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