Here’s more news about how the Government is dishing out its science money.
First, another media statement from Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce. This time he has announced the successful applicants to host three New Zealand-China Research Collaboration Centres, supported through New Zealand’s Catalyst Fund for international science collaboration.
The successful applicants are:
- Massey University, hosting the New Zealand-China Food Protection Network – a Collaborative Centre for Food Safety and Security;
- Lincoln University, hosting the New Zealand-China Water Research Centre;
- The University of Otago, hosting the New Zealand-China Non-Communicable Diseases Collaboration Centre.
Second, Massey University put out a statement to expand on the Minister’s news.
The New Zealand-China Food Protection Network, which involves nine New Zealand research organisations, has been awarded $1.25 million in funding.
The network will work alongside the recently announced New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre, hosted by Massey University and established in response to a key recommendation from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident.
The network aims to enhance communication between research scientists, government organisations and industries here and in China.
The other New Zealand partners involved in the NZ-CFPN project are the University of Auckland, University of Otago, Auckland University of Technology, Cawthron Institute, AgResearch, Environmental Science & Research, Plant & Food Research and Scion.
Research collaborations in food safety and security have been established with 51 Chinese partners, including 13 of the top 50-ranked universities in China and other leading Chinese academies.
Project leader Professor Nigel French says these collaborations have evolved through individual organisations and scientists pairing with Chinese partners.
“The network will create a new mechanism for knowledge generation and exchange, enabling the uptake of research into effective policies that reduce hazards in the food chain and ensure a sustainable supply of safe and nutritious food.
“It will increase consumer confidence in both countries, ensuring international best practice is being followed for food protection. The network will be highly connected, effective and durable, and will help transform the food safety and security research landscape,” says Professor French.
Project objectives will be achieved through a five-year programme of scientist and postgraduate exchanges, conferences and workshops, seed funding for strategic projects and the development of a dedicated website and communication platform.
The NZ-CFPN will be an inclusive network available to all research providers and industries in both countries.
Professor French is the establishment director of the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre, which was launched in May as a partnership between government, industry organisations and research institutions.
According to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Enterprise website (here):
This is a virtual centre that will see the best scientists around the country collaborating on work programmes that cut across different food and beverage sectors.
The research to be conducted aims to protect New Zealanders from food safety-related health threats, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and other food borne diseases.
Research will also meet the needs of industry, helping to grow exports and ensure local food and beverage businesses have access to foreign markets through meeting internationally recognised food safety standards. The research conducted aims to protect and enhance New Zealand’s international reputation as a trusted producer of safe food.
The centre’s research focuses on:
- food safety hazards, for example biological, chemical, physical and radiological hazards associated with substances added to food;
- risk assessment, risk management and risk communication of public good food safety issues;
- linkages with relevant science and research providers, and programmes in New Zealand and internationally.
The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, the Meat Industry Association and Zespri have committed $2.05 million so far. The Government, through MBIE and the Ministry for Primary Industries, was matching this contribution, bringing total funding to $4.1 million per annum. It is expected that funding for the centre will grow over time.
Now let’s get back to the three New Zealand-China Research Collaboration Centres that are being supported through New Zealand’s Catalyst Fund for international science collaboration.
As Joyce explained, these will bring together researchers across New Zealand in the areas of water research, food safety and security and non-communicable diseases.
A total of $3.75 million in funding is available for the three centres over five years.
“The three centres were chosen for their strong and inclusive networks across New Zealand, along with their extensive connections with world-leading institutions in China,” Mr Joyce says.
“International science and innovation connections are important for a small nation like ours. They bring new ideas, technology and sources of funding into New Zealand, and are crucial for the export of innovations generated in New Zealand.
“China is a very important collaboration partner for New Zealand and these centres will deliver on a key action identified at the New Zealand–China Joint Commission Meeting on science and technology in April last year.
“Our scientists will be provided with the tools they need to effectively engage with Chinese institutions. They will be supported to share their connections and experiences, using this knowledge to form and strengthen research partnerships with China.”
The Catalyst Fund supports and fosters collaborations leveraging international science and innovation for New Zealand’s benefit.
Public summaries of the three centres can be found here.