Science gets more Budget funding – but there other snouts in the innovation trough

The word “science” popped up twice in the Budget speech (HERE) delivered by Finance Minister Steven Joyce today.

Hopes would have been raised by Mr Joyce being a former Minister of Scienc and Innovation and of his mentioning his first Budget’s investment of $1 billion over four years “in sustaining the strong economic plan that is getting New Zealand to grow”.

First, he said, the Government is allocating $373 million in the second round of its Innovative New Zealand programme.

Good-oh. That’s where the science money comes from.

Let these words from the Budget speech explain it:

“Innovative New Zealand is a series of science, R&D and skills initiatives that are working together to lift the innovation activity of New Zealand companies.

“The funding includes $82 million for the Government’s pre-eminent applied science fund – the Endeavour fund; $132 million for Tertiary Education to ensure young New Zealanders obtain the skills we need; and $75 million for Callaghan Innovation’s R&D grants to help our tech companies succeed.

“It’s all about adding more value to our export volumes. Investment in innovation is hugely important for lifting our productivity and providing for our future prosperity.”

The two mentions of science can be found in the first of those three paragraphs.

Mr Joyce went on to say $134 million over four years was being allocated to advance New Zealand’s Trade Agenda 2030, including opening new embassies in Dublin and Colombo, “as we work towards our ambitious target of having 90 per cent of goods exports covered by trade agreements”.

There is $304 million towards the ongoing development of our screen sector, and $146 million in new funding to grow our tourism infrastructure around the country so every region can benefit from the growth in our tourism industry.

The Budget speech also mentioned $93 million in new Maori development initiatives, including $10 million to support the development of Māori tourism, and $17 million for Māori housing initiatives.

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith on May 10 announced the additional $74.6 million in funding through the Innovative New Zealand programme in Budget 2017 (HERE) to meet the growing demand for Callaghan Innovation’s research and development (R&D) Growth Grants.

Today he made a further announcement (HERE), fleshing out Mr Joyce’s mention of an additional $81.9 million of new operating funding over four years to support high-impact, mission-led programmes of science through the Endeavour Fund.

The new funding lifts the Government’s total investment through the Endeavour Fund, New Zealand’s largest contestable science fund, to $829.2 million over the next four years.

The Endeavour Fund complements the Government’s other investments in mission-led science.

“Budget 2017 demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to delivering on the vision set out in the National Statement of Science Investment, to create a highly dynamic science system that enriches New Zealand, making a more visible, measurable contribution to our productivity through excellent science,” Mr Goldsmith said.

The Budget adds $255.6 million over four years of funding for science and innovation, growing total Government investment in science and innovation by 26 per cent from $1.32 billion in 2015 to $1.66 billion by 2021. This builds on the $410.5 million investment through Budget 2016.

The Government is investing $4 million of new operational funding over four year to help reduce emissions.

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett said this money will be spread across government (thinly, dare we say) to come up with costed, tested and modelled policy options to meet its Paris Agreement emissions target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The Emissions Trading Scheme is being reviewed.

Other announcements included $18.4 million over four years to strengthen biosecurity systems and protect our borders.

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