19 Endeavour Fund projects directly relate to agriculture and food production  

As an organisation that consistently calls for science and ground-truthed research to underpin policy and regulations, Federated Farmers says it has no problem with the government investing $249 million in the 2018 round of the Endeavour Fund.

“It’s a lot of money but it should be viewed as an investment in our future,” Feds science and innovation spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“The nation has some big challenges ahead, including improving resilience to climate change, protecting biodiversity and maintaining economic performance.”

The Endeavour Fund is New Zealand’s largest research and science contestable fund and the 69 multi-year projects approved should deliver real gains in knowledge and future opportunities, Hoggard says.

He notes that at least 19 of the projects directly relate to agriculture and food production.

In particular, Federated Farmers is pleased to see an $11.4m NIWA project to advance the carbon inventory locked up in forest, grassland and urban environments, and $7.7m to a Lincoln Agritech-led team which will seek better understanding of the pathways by which nitrogen travels from land to waterways. This is a project which the Feds have identified as a priority.

Massey University will get $11.2m for its project Milks Mean More: Unlocking the potential of New Zealand’s ruminant milks, and NIWA will use $8m to explore new technologies to double the effectiveness of on-farm diffuse pollution mitigation.

New Zealand farmers pride themselves on being world leaders in both production and sustainability, Hoggard says.

They need the best science and research data available to step up our game even more.

Source:  Federated Farmers

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$249m for new research projects through the Endeavour Fund

The Government is investing $249 million in ambitious research projects that will improve the lives of New Zealanders and address some of the challenges facing the country, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods announced today.

The 69 new research projects were awarded funding through the 2018 round of the Endeavour Fund. This is New Zealand’s largest and most prestigious research and science contestable fund.

“The Endeavour Fund invests in excellent research that makes a vital contribution to New Zealand’s future economic performance, the sustainability and integrity of our environment, and the strength of our society,

“This year the Endeavour Fund is investing in improving our resilience to climate change, our transition to a low-emissions economy, monitoring of natural disasters, and protecting our biodiversity.”

Some of the successful proposals receiving funding include:

Beyond myrtle rust: Next-generation tools to ‘engineer’ forest ecosystem resilience to plant pathogens (Landcare, $13,000,000 over five years).

Advancing New Zealand’s carbon inventory: forest, grassland, and urban environments and ecoservices (NIWA, $11,455,000 over five years).

Impacts of microplastics on New Zealand’s bioheritage systems, environments and ecoservices (ESR, $12,536,205 over five years).

Addressing the need for magnetic memory to enable superconducting computing(Victoria University of Wellington, $5,971,120 over five years).

Titanium Foam Thermal Shielding, Returning Small Payloads from Space(University of Auckland, $999,714 over three years)

Proposals are assessed and approved for funding by the Science Board, an independent board responsible for making decisions to allocate funding appropriated for research, science, technology and related activities, Woods said.

The full list of successful projects is available HERE.

MBIE’s website provides more details HERE.

$58m for research supporting environmental, economic, social outcomes

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods today released the revised 2019-2021 Endeavour Fund Investment Plan, with new investment signals to support the Government’s aim of transitioning to a more sustainable economy.

The Endeavour Fund supports over $200m of research each year, investing in ambitious research ideas with the potential to transform our economy, environment and society. It will invest $58m of new annual funding between 2019 and 2021.

The Government’s vision for New Zealand puts the long-term well-being of people and the environment at the heart of what it does, Dr Woods said.

“That’s why the Endeavour Fund will now be guided by investment signals that reflect the Government’s priorities of growing R&D intensive industries, and transitioning to a low emissions economy. These new signals will initiate much needed research into both areas.

“Research, science and innovation will make a vital contribution towards improving kiwi’s lives by informing and improving how we respond to the social, economic and environmental challenges we face.”

The new investment plan also introduces a new approach to supporting higher-risk, transformational Research Programmes proposals. This is to encourage research proposals in emerging areas where impact initially can be harder to assess, such as technologies, and goods and services which are new to New Zealand, or new to the world, Dr Woods said.

Other key settings of the Endeavour Fund remain unchanged.

The Science Board will continue to make funding decisions, and excellence and impact will continue to be key assessment criteria.

The Fund will continue to support research with a broad range of economic, environmental and social impacts beyond the new investment signals.

The Investment Plan is a guide for researchers and scientists to apply for funding, and will cover the next three rounds from 2019 to 2021.

More information on the 2019-2021 Endeavour Fund Investment Plan can be found can be found HERE  on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website.

Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures launched in move from volume to value

Growing New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors sustainably and supporting a thriving economy are the hallmarks of a new investment programme announced today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The best of two Ministry for Primary Industries investment programmes – the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Primary Growth Partnership – have been taken to create Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures, or SFF Futures, Mr O’Connor said.

“We are moving from volume to value. New Zealand’s commodity growth drive has come at the expense of the vital natural resources we need for our primary sector – our soil, water and social license to operate,” he said.

With a budget of $40 million a year, SFF Futures will provide a single gateway for farmers and growers to apply for investment in a greater range of projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits that flow through to all Kiwis.

“The food and fibre industries are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, delivering more than $42 billion in export revenue last year, and the Coalition Government wants to help extract more value from what they already do, in a sustainable way that means our natural resources will be there for future generations,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Targeted funding rounds may include projects focusing on specific outcomes, such as climate change or the environment.”

The announcement was made on a farm in Morrinsville alongside the launch of a project to tap into the high-value, New Zealand goat milk infant formula industry.

“The CAPRINZ programme is the type of SFF Futures programme we are looking for,” Mr O’Connor said.

It has a value chain focus, is expected to  deliver environmental and sustainability benefits, grow an important industry, foster collaboration, build capability and retain the benefits in New Zealand.

Source:  Minister of Agriculture

R&D tax incentive update: Minister says legislation will be introduced in October

Reporting progress on the Government’s plan to introduce a research and development (R&D) tax incentive, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods reiterates the aim to lift New Zealand’s economy-wide spend on R&D from 1.3% to 2% of GDP over the next 10 years. The tax incentive will be a key lever in reaching this goal.After a consultation period, officials are now producing final recommendations on the design of the scheme.

There will be further opportunities for people to have their say on the design of the R&D tax incentive during the select committee process later this year.

Legislation will be introduced in October for the R&D tax incentive to be in place by 1 April 2019. Eligible businesses paying tax will be able to benefit from this policy from day one.

Over time, the Government intends to have a full package of support for New Zealand’s Innovation system, including support for start-ups.

“We recognise it is vital to have the right kinds of support in place for pre-profit businesses that are in tax loss or those that have insufficient taxable income to benefit from a tax credit,” Dr Woods said.

She has noted concerns that R&D-intensive firms and start-ups would not be able to benefit from the incentive.

The policy issues involved in supporting companies in tax loss through a tax incentive were complex, she said, “but we are committed to having a solution in place by April 2020”.

In the meantime start-ups and businesses in tax loss can continue to get support from the range of grants and incubators from Callaghan Innovation.

Source: Minister for Research, Science and Innovation

Ravensdown PGP gets new funding boost

Ravensdown’s Primary Growth Partnership programme has been extended to cover more geographic areas with the aim that the research outputs will be valid for 90% of hill country in New Zealand.

The research involves aerial scanning of hill country farms combined with actual soil tests so a predictive model of soil fertility can be calibrated across the varied terrain. New additional funding has been made available by Ravensdown and the Ministry for Primary Industries on a 60:40 basis so that the North Canterbury and Southland regions can be modelled and tested.

The farmer-owned co-operative has committed to invest $564,000 to complete this additional work, with MPI investing $376,200.

This PGP programme, called Pioneering to Precision, and an aligned Ravensdown-funded programme, which is investigating improved aerial spreading precision, is at the three-quarter mark on its seven-year journey. The special aerial camera used by the programme scans 1,000 hectares an hour. These ‘AirScans’ can be turned into a soil fertility map that directs a GPS-enabled topdressing aircraft with computer-controlled doors to deliver fertiliser where it’s needed, instead of where it’s not.

Of the farms using the aerial spreading precision service so far, the system ensured fertiliser was avoided for 14% of land either because it was ineffective, culturally sensitive or environmentally vulnerable. The technology also makes it safer for pilots and can be better for productivity and the environment.

“When it comes to the aerial scanning of hill country, there will be some climate and soil differences which means you can’t necessarily take results from one part of the country and apply it to another,” said Mike Manning, Ravensdown’s General Manager Innovation and Strategy.

“We’ve done a fair amount of calibrating actual soil results with modelled results across the east coast and central parts of the North Island, South Canterbury and Otago. While we wouldn’t expect the differences to be huge across many of these regions, it’s important to check.”

Ravensdown is looking for farms in the newly added areas who want to test their farm using the AirScan service.

Source:  Ravensdown

Three new strategic science platforms announced

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) today announced $35.4 million over six years for three new strategic science platforms undertaking research to improve the performance of New Zealand’s seafood, shellfish aquaculture, and hide and skin processing industries.

The new platforms are funded through MBIE’s Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF) which supports long-term research in priority areas critical to the future of New Zealand’s economy, environment and wellbeing, says Danette Olsen, Manager, Strategic Investments.

A SSIF platform supports capability important to New Zealand by bringing together scientists, resources, expert knowledge and the facilities needed to deliver on long-term research goals.

All three platforms are intended to improve New Zealand’s international competitiveness through local research and innovation, and  ultimately to strengthen sustainability of our seafood, aquaculture and hide industries by the creation of higher value products.

Platforms will be hosted by the independent research organisations Cawthron Institute and the Leather and Shoe Research Association (LASRA).

The Seafood Safety Platform, aimed at eliminating product recalls and ensuring market access for New Zealand’s seafood will be hosted by the Cawthron Institute and will receive $3 million per year for six years.

The Shellfish Aquaculture Platform, also hosted by Cawthron, will receive $2 million per year for six years to undertake research aimed at enhancing, growing and securing New Zealand’s shellfish aquaculture industry.

The third new SSIF platform will be hosted by LASRA and will address the quality, performance and sustainability New Zealand’s valuable hide and skin processing industry. The platform has been granted $0.9 million per year for six years.

Visit the MBIE website for more information on the new science platforms hosted by Cawthron Institute and the LASRA.

Source: Ministry of Business Innovation and Development