Review panel says CRIs have a place in our science system but (no surprises here) changes are needed

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has released a review of the New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes it commissioned late last year.

The Te Pae Kahurangi Report was commissioned to present an independent view of the role that the institutes (CRIs) can and should play in meeting the country’s current and future needs.

It details a range of findings and recommendations that will inform MBIE’s post-election advice for the incoming government.

A key conclusion of the review panel is that CRIs remain a critical component of New Zealand’s science system but – the agscience sector will not be surprised to learn – aspects of the current system are not working well and the future will require an approach that is “more integrated”.

Funding and the competition generated by the funding system are among the issues calling for change. Continue reading

Mission control centre for methane-measuring satellite venture to be based in NZ

New Zealand has joined its first official space mission as a country to combat climate change and the mission control centre will be located in New Zealand.

The Government will contribute $26 million towards MethaneSAT, a state-of-the-art satellite designed to detect global methane emissions with unprecedented accuracy.

The mission is being led by a United States-based non-government organisation, Environmental Defense Fund, and its subsidiary, MethaneSAT LLC, which have signed a partnership agreement with New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

While EDF and MethaneSAT are initially focused on collecting data about methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, New Zealand intends working with EDF to consider how the data might be used to investigate and potentially lead an atmospheric science component of the mission related to agricultural methane emissions. Continue reading

Lifting R&D investment: Govt releases tax incentive discussion document

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash today have released the Research and Development Tax Incentive Discussion Document for public consultation.

The Government is committed through its coalition agreement with New Zealand First to increasing business R&D expenditure to 2 per cent of GDP over 10 years, Ms Woods said in a press statement. The  consultation document is the first step being taken to achieve that goal.

New Zealand’s gross expenditure on R&D is 1.28 per cent of GDP – much lower than the OECD average of 2.38 per cent.

“Growing R&D is a key lever in diversifying the economy and creating new industries, businesses, and highly skilled jobs,” Ms Woods said.

“Sustained increases in government investment will be important, but we will also need to see an increasing contribution from the private sector, specifically in businesses undertaking R&D.

“That’s why we’re introducing an R&D tax incentive as a significant addition to the system of government support for New Zealand’s innovation system.”

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says the R&D tax incentive will have broad reach across the economy and will enable businesses of all sizes to undertake R&D.

“An R&D tax incentive will offer a greater element of certainty to businesses,” he says.

“It will be a simpler process, and will open access to those that have either struggled to access support or have been shut out of the process in the past. The system should stand the test of time and give businesses the consistency and confidence they need to succeed.”

Establishing a tax incentive mechanism of this nature had to be done carefully, Mr Nash says.

The discussion document sets out the main design and technical features proposed for the R&D tax incentive.

Over the next six weeks, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with support from Inland Revenue and Callaghan Innovation, will be seeking feedback on specific aspects of this proposal to ensure the R&D tax incentive is fit for purpose.

AgScience readers can visit MBIE’s website to read the R&D tax incentive discussion document and make a submission HERE. 

Source: Government press statement


Massey-hosted food safety partnership awarded $1.25M

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.

Continue reading

Govt releases summary of submissions on future of science system

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has  released the summary of submissions received in response to the Government’s first Draft National Statement of Science Investment (NSSI), which sets out the current settings and proposed future priorities for the Government’s science investment.

The Draft NSSI was released for public feedback in May. It reviews the entire cross-government investment in research and development, and proposes potential reforms to the sector-specific research funds administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

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New Govt funding for pest and disease research to send apples to Asia

New research funding will support the pipfruit industry in opening the door for apple exports in new high-value Asian markets.

The $4.35 million Apple Futures II programme, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and leveraged by pipfruit industry investment, will support the development of new tools to control pests and diseases in the orchard and new systems to remove insects during postharvest.

The programme will build on a relationship spanning more than 20 years between the pipfruit sector and Plant & Food Research in developing integrated pest management programmes for pipfruit growers, securing access to key markets for New Zealand’s pipfruit exports.

“Access to new high-value markets is a priority for New Zealand’s pipfruit sector if we are to realise our goal of $1 billion of exports by 2022,” says Alan Pollard, CEO of Pipfruit New Zealand.

“There are increasingly stringent phytosanitary requirements in these markets, as well as a growing desire by consumers for reduced pesticide use. This funding will allow us to develop new tools and technologies that ensure we can deliver shipments that are free from pests and diseases and with no chemical residues on fruit, maintaining New Zealand’s reputation as a supplier of premium produce.”

Dr Bruce Campbell, COO of Plant & Food Research, said:

 “By understanding the orchard system – the conditions under which diseases develop, when insect pest populations might pose greatest risk and how other organisms in the environment can contribute to controlling these – we have been able to put in place systems that allow growers to deliver fruit that meets the most stringent requirements. This new funding will allow us to ensure that New Zealand apple and pear growers can access key markets in which their fruit commands a premium price.”

New Zealand pipfruit generates approximately $500 million per year in exports, about a third of this from Asian markets.

It is estimated that the growing Asian market will, by 2022, generate close to $500 million annually on its own, representing about 50% of New Zealand’s pipfruit exports.

More information on the current pipfruit integrated pest management programme, Apple Futures, can be found at




Govt provides $15m for new biological research partnerships

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced the Government will invest more than $15 million over a maximum of seven years to support four research partnerships that will benefit New Zealand’s primary industries.

The funds are being allocated from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Biological Industries Research Fund, as determined by the independent MBIE Science Board.

The new Pastoral Genomics Ltd ‘Commercialising Forage Biotechnologies’ Partnership, led by a joint venture between DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Grasslands Innovation, NZ Agriseeds, DEEResearch, AgResearch, and Dairy Australia, will receive $3.11 million for one year to improve the pastoral system and enhance on-farm efficiency.

Pipfruit New Zealand Inc will receive $4.35 million over seven years for the ‘Apple Futures II’ Partnership, which aims to secure market access for apples to high-value Asian markets by developing new knowledge of pest and pathogen infestation and infection processes.

New Zealand Winegrowers will receive $3.50 million over seven years for the ‘Resilient and Profitable Wine Industry’ Partnership, which aims to increase vineyard longevity and profitability.

An investment of $4.35 million over seven years will be made in the ‘Meat Industry Research and Innovation’ Partnership, led by the Meat Industry Association Inc. The research will include finding ways to increase the quality and shelf-life of chilled meat exports, and improve the productivity and profitability of export meat processing.

Government funding will be matched by industry funding on a one-to-one basis.

Govt announces $139m investment in new research programmes

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has announced that $139 million over six years will be invested in new science research programmes.

The 48 research programmes receiving funding in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s 2014 science investment round are in the biological industries, high-value manufacturing and services, energy and minerals, environmental, and health and society sectors.

“Science and innovation have crucial roles in achieving high-quality outcomes for New Zealand. The goal of the Government’s science investment is to produce excellent science with the highest capacity to benefit New Zealanders,” Mr Joyce says.

“The projects announced today will help to boost the productivity and competitiveness of our economy and generate knowledge that will help us make informed decisions as a society.”

Continue reading

Survey of scientists shows dissatisfaction with National Science Challenges

Almost 300 scientists from government science institutions, universities and independent research organisations have condemned the way in which the Government’s National Science Challenges are being rolled out. They also are questioning the potential of the challenges to deliver benefit to New Zealand, according to a recent poll run by the New Zealand Association of Scientists.

The results, published on the NZAS website, contradict ministerial assurances that there are no problems with the challenges process.

NZAS President Nicola Gaston, in a media statement, said the sad thing about the survey responses was how disengaged scientists had become from the process.

Continue reading

Host proposals sought for Food Safety Science & Research Centre

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye have invited seven organisations to participate in a Request for Proposals to host the Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

The centre is being established to promote, co-ordinate, and deliver food safety science and research, in response to a key recommendation from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination incident.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry for Primary Industries are working together to decide the best possible host for the centre.

Among the criteria will be good linkages to international regulators, research organisations and the food industry.

The seven organisations that are eligible to respond to the RfP are:

1. AgResearch

The Cawthron Institute

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research

Massey University

Plant and Food Research

The University of Auckland

The University of Otago

Responses to the RfP are due by 29 August.

The Centre is expected to be operational by late 2014.

The RfP can be found here.