Archive for the ‘Science funding’ Category

Callaghan student grants breaking records

Callaghan Innovation has approved the 2017/18 round of Student Experience Grants, with 139 businesses to offer 358 students paid work over the summer break.

A record 179 businesses applied for 418 internships

Since Callaghan Innovation was established in 2013, 274 different companies have been approved for an Experience Grant. As a result, over 800 students have undertaken an R&D Experience placement.

The grants support undergraduate students studying science, technology, business, engineering or design to gain valuable work experience during the summer student break. They provides funding of $18 an hour for up to 400 hours of work.

The programme is available to businesses of any size that have a focus on research and development. More information is available HERE.

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Endeavour Fund to invest $248 million in 68 research projects

Funding of $248 mijllion over the next five years has been awarded for 68 new science research projects through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s 2017 Endeavour Fund.

The fund is intended for transformative initiatives with a strong potential to improve a range of outcomes for New Zealand.

As part of the 2017 fund round, up to $15 million a year in total will be invested in 41 projects under the ‘Smart Ideas’ initiative over the next three years.

Up to $43 million a year in total will be invested in 27 ‘Research Programmes’ over the next five years.

Successful funding proposals include improving NZ Pinot noir production (New Zealand Winegrowers) and  exploring new technologies to improve weather forecasting (MetOcean Solutions Limited).

A quick tally by AgScience suggests AgResearchy secured $24,999,999 of funding, Landcare Research $9,749,999, Lincoln Agritech $12,213,045, Massey University $$9,854,328 and Plant and Food $150,000.

The successful proposals were selected by the Science Board, an independent statutory Board, following a review by independent experts. The new research contracts will begin on October 1.

More information on the successful  proposals can be found HERE.

 

Future farming fund investment will optimise primary sector, farm leaders say

Federated Farmers has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will lift investment in the Sustainable Farming Fund from $7 million to $20 million.

Science spokesman Guy Wigley said working with the sector was a much more effective and useful approach than the tax and punish policies of some other parties.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced a cross-sector panel will oversee what will be renamed The Future Farming Fund, driving advances in farming technology and practices while further reducing farming’s environmental footprint.

Since its launch 17 years ago, the Sustainable Farming Fund and leveraged sector support has helped more than 1000 projects to lift the performance and sustainability of primary producers.

“This kind of research is what keeps us at the forefront of farming technology and ensures we remain among the most efficient producers of food on the planet,” Mr Guy said.

Federated Farmers is a lead organisation in projects such as the smart irrigation study in Canterbury. This is about quantifying the relationship between irrigation over time, the accumulation of soil carbon and changes in soil water holding capacity, with spin-offs for knowledge on groundwater recharge and nutrient leaching.

“The project is typical of environmental gains we can make when we improve our knowledge of technology and natural systems,” Mr Guy said.

Federated Farmers said the payback from the Sustainable Farming Fund for food production, export earnings and the environment from turbo-charging a fund for farming technology and practice will be many times the investment.

Goldsmith announces $35m for advanced genomics research

The Government will invest up to $35 million over seven years in Genomics Aotearoa, a new collaborative science organisation supporting advanced genomics research, Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today.

Genomics is a fast-moving, data intensive research field which underpins a wide range of science of increasing importance to New Zealand, Mr Goldsmith says.

Led by the University of Otago, Genomics Aotearoa is an alliance between the Universities of Auckland and Massey, Crown Research Institutes AgReserach, ESR, Landcare Research, and Plant and Food, and 32 associate organisations including researchers and end users of genomics and bioinformatics.

From health research to the primary sector and the environment, there are considerable social and economic gains on offer from the new collaborative platform, Mr Goldsmith says.

Genomics involves data-intensive computing to decode the DNA of plants, animals, and humans to understand how groups of genes interact with each other and the external environment. It is not genetic modification, which is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genome.

“This investment will establish Genomics Aotearoa as a collaborative platform of genomics research that grows New Zealand’s capability, builds international connections, and develops the tools and technologies that will support our genomics researchers in delivering excellent science,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The new platform will accelerate genomics research in New Zealand, and thereby speed up our understanding of diseases like Kauri dieback, how to counter pest animal species, and develop new medical treatments for diseases such as cancer.”

Funding will come from the Government’s Strategic Science Investment Fund and follows a competitive two-stage application and assessment process managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Genomics Aotearoa presented a strong proposal that was comprehensive in scope and ambition, and seeks to cement national collaboration between genomic researchers and end-users across all life sciences of relevance to New Zealand’s economic, environmental and social wellbeing,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“This platform represents a new, strategic approach to Government investment in genomics research that allows us to build on our existing capability while remaining nimble enough to respond to future technological opportunities.”

MBIE will now work closely with Genomics Aotearoa as the platform undergoes a six month establishment phase which will involve developing a research agenda and work programme.

More information is available HERE.

 

Three-year Marsden Fund Investment Plan released

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith says the new three-year Investment Plan for the Marsden Fund, launched by the Marsden Fund Council, will help guide the strategic direction of the fund and contribute to the National Statement of Science Investment.

The Marsden Fund Council, which oversees the fund, developed the plan following an assessment earlier this year undertaken by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The fund was found to be highly regarded, well-run and effective at selecting high-quality research within its current settings, but recommended an investment plan to provide strategic direction, and ensure the fund continues to be effective and fit-for-purpose.

“The National Statement of Science Investment sets clear expectations for Government investment in research – we invest in excellence and we invest for impact. This plan signals a number of adjustments that will align the Fund with our broader vision for the research sector,” says Mr Goldsmith.

The Investment Plan outlines key changes which will be put in place for the 2018 funding round. These include:

  • Introducing a new award to support large interdisciplinary projects, worth up to $3 million;
  • Allowing researchers to apply for follow-on awards to sustain momentum for outstanding research;
  • Modifying assessment criteria to align more closely with the National Statement of Science Investment (NSSI), including the potential for significant scholarly impact;
  • Trialling a broader assessment panel structure;
  • Undertaking additional moderation between panels to ensure the quality and consistency of research selected from all disciplines; and
  • Providing more feedback to unsuccessful applicants and institutions following on preliminary proposals.

“The Marsden Fund has delivered high-quality research for the last 23 years and I’m confident that the strategic direction outlined in the Investment Plan will ensure it continues to do so for many years to come,” Mr Goldsmith says.

Further details on the implementation of the plan will be provided to the research community through a series of roadshows around the country, organised by the Royal Society Te Apārangi. The Marsden Fund Council is developing a Performance Framework for the Fund which will be published later this year.

More information and the Investment Plan can be found HERE. The Marsden Fund Assessment Report can be found HERE.

New seven-year contracts are announced on the 25th anniversary of the CRIs

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the start of new funding contracts for New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes (CRIs), which he says will enable a more strategic approach to science as the science organisations celebrate their 25th anniversaries during 2017.

The seven-year contracts, which combined represent a $1.2 billion investment, are the first to be issued through the Government’s new Strategic Science Investment Funding (SSIF) investment mechanism.

The move from five-year to seven-year funding contracts follows a review of CRI core funding to ensure alignment with the vision and design principles set out in the Government’s National Statement of Science Investment (NSSI).

The review found that increased stable funding would enable CRIs to operate more strategically and implement a number of improvements to deliver greater benefit to the science system.

CRI funding accounts for around 15 per cent of the Government’s total science investment and represents a significant proportion of our national research activity.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has worked closely with each CRI to develop ‘Platform Plans’ that describe how each agency will use its funding as well as targets and metrics to measure its performance.

Platform Plans focus on purchasing science outcomes rather than funding organisations or individuals. They also provide a framework to support science capability that makes a critical and enduring contribution to New Zealand while still having the flexibility to shift funding as priorities change, Mr Goldsmith says.

Myrtle rust is on the agenda for new NZ-Aust research collaboration

The Government is committing $4.46 million for three new New Zealand-Australia research projects aimed at delivering wide-ranging benefits to New Zealand, Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

The funding of the partnerships through the Catalyst Fund, which supports international research partnerships and scientific cooperation, reinforces the Government’s support for collaboration across the Tasman through the New Zealand – Australia Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement, signed in February 2017.

One of the successful projects involves the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research in collaboration with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. It will undertake research on key New Zealand plant species’ susceptibility to Myrtle Rust.

The other projects are:

* The University of Auckland in collaboration with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will investigate links between genes, environment, molecular physiology and health through early- and mid-life to improve the health of our children.

* Massey University in collaboration with CSIRO will explore turning metal-organic frameworks into disruptive technologies and applications including new catalysts for eliminating nitrous oxide greenhouse gas emissions.

“These projects reflect the fact that Australia and New Zealand face many of the same issues and opportunities that can be addressed through high-quality complementary research,” says Mr Goldsmith.

“In particular, the research into Myrtle Rust will be important for our ongoing efforts to control the spread of the disease, and manage its impacts on native species such as Manuka, with its importance to the honey industry.

International partnerships are fundamental for New Zealand’s science and innovation system because they bring new knowledge, ideas, people, technology and investment into our system, he said.

More information on the successful Catalyst Fund projects can be found HERE, and the New Zealand – Australia Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement can be found HERE.