Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has released a report which details a number of measures to ensure the Marsden Fund, the Government’s premier fund for excellent investigator-led research, continues to be effective and fit-for-purpose.
The report found the Marsden Fund is highly-regarded, well-run and effective at selecting high-quality research within its current settings, but a number of improvements are needed to ensure it continues to deliver benefits in the future.
The Marsden Fund Council, which oversees the Fund’s operation, has been asked to develop a strategic direction which shows how the Fund will be managed to achieve its objectives and contribute to the National Statement of Science Investment vision and Goals.
The strategic direction will require the Marsden Council to:
- Develop an Investment Plan that sets out the strategic direction of the Fund, addresses the issues identified in the assessment, and shows how the Fund will be managed to achieve its objectives; and
- Develop a Performance Framework that will include periodic review by international experts to provide assurance of the value of the Government’s investment.
The implementation of any changes to the operation of the Fund will be clearly signalled through the Investment Plan. To assist the Council in its expanded role and to provide a strong, independent voice, the Minister of Science and Innovation will also be including more international Councillors on the Council through future appointment rounds.
“For the last 23 years the Marsden Fund has been undertaking high-quality scientific research and with these changes the Fund can plan for the next 23,” says Mr Goldsmith.
The Marsden Fund Assessment of Strategy and Management Report can be found on the MBIE website, HERE.
The 2016 Research and Development Survey, which measures the level of business, government and higher education R&D activity in New Zealand, shows business research and development expenditure increased 29 per cent from 2014 to $1.6 billion in 2016, up $356 million.
Total expenditure on R&D increased 20 per cent in the same period, totalling $3.2 billion in 2016.
The data were welcomed by Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith as a sign of the confidence businesses have in themselves and the New Zealand economy.
He said this was an important survey because it was the first to fully capture the impact of the work the Government is doing through Callaghan Innovation and the R&D grants programme to support lifting business spending on R&D.
Callaghan Innovation’s grants and research expertise have been designed to stimulate businesses to fund their own R&D activities. The figures from Statistics New Zealand “are tangible evidence that the initiative is working”, Goldsmith said.
The 2016 Research and Development Survey also reports that:
- The services and manufacturing sectors led the growth in business R&D up 32 and 29 per cent respectively. From the service sector, the computer services industry grew 40 per cent from 2014.
- R&D spend is growing faster than the rest of the economy.
- The number of researchers involved in R&D in New Zealand has increased by 2,900 to 54,500 people.
- 85 per cent of businesses undertaking R&D activity expected the future R&D spending to stay the same or increase.
The survey also highlighted a significant increase in international investment in New Zealand R&D – up 37 per cent to $265 million in 2016.
Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has announced three new appointments and two reappointments to the Science Board.
The new members, Dr David Wratt, Dr Jill Vintiner and Professor Aidan Byrne, have been appointed to the board for terms of three years. Dr Charlotte Severne and Professor Adam Jaffe were reappointed for further terms of three years and 18 months respectively.
The Science Board is responsible for the allocation of funding used predominantly by research organisations for science, technology, research, and related activities.
Goldsmith said the new appointments offered expertise in a range of science disciplines and the unique skills and experience each member brought would equip the board with valuable insight.
He expressed his thanks to outgoing board member Professor Janis Swan, who finished her term on 31 December 2016, for her contribution to the board.
More information on the Science Board can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website.
Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the signing of a ground- breaking bilateral international science agreement between New Zealand and Australia.
The Australia–New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement is a commitment to valuable collaboration across the innovation and science systems, and between researchers and innovative companies, on both sides of the Tasman.
Goldsmith said the agreement sets out a clear work programme that will provide a focus-point for cooperation.
“New Zealand’s role as foundation investors in the Australian Synchrotron is a prime example of that collaboration, and means we now have access to a facility which can assist in the development of everything from forensics, to surgical tools, to understanding environmental issues.”
Synchrotron users vary from universities and Crown Research Institutes, through to the private sector and high-tech start-ups.
Key initial proposals in the work programme include mapping collaborative research opportunities, research infrastructure planning and investment, standards and measurement research and the exchange of experts, knowledge and expertise.
The agreement also provides for a wide array of initiatives such as common science priorities, working together in other international endeavours and the promotion of a trans-Tasman innovation ecosystem for talent and investment attraction.
More information on the agreement and associated new initiatives can be found on the MBIE website (HERE).
Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith is back on deck, making his first media announcement of the year jointly with Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell. The ministers have opened a fifth round of the Te Pūnaha Hihiko – Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund in which up to $4 million is available for successful projects.
“We are seeking proposals that strengthen connections between Māori and the science and innovation system. This fund will continue to foster a greater understanding of how science and technology can contribute to the aspirations of Māori organisations, for the benefit of New Zealand,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“The government is investing in projects that contribute to the development of skilled people and organisations undertaking research that support the four themes of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Vision Mātauranga policy.”
The Vision Mātauranga policy aims to unlock the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people.
It focuses on four themes:
- indigenous innovation – contributing to economic growth through distinctive science and innovation
- taiao/environment – achieving environmental sustainability through iwi and hapū relationships with land and sea
- hauora/health – improving health and social wellbeing
- mātauranga – exploring indigenous knowledge and science and innovation.
“We know that Māori success is New Zealand’s success and we have already seen innovative results that have wide reaching benefits from the programmes funded to date.
“Unlocking the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people will have major economic, social and environmental benefits for New Zealand.” Mr Flavell says.
A total of $3.97 million was invested in 33 new programmes through the fund in 2016, a substantial investment that recognises the value of Māori participation in science and innovation.
Applications must be with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise by April 5. Successful applicants will be announced in May.
Checking on what Paul Goldsmith has been doing since his appointment as Minister of Science and Innovation just before Christmas, we find he has issued four press statements.
But only one of them (see here) was issued in respect of his science portfolio. He issued the others in his job as Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister.
The most recent statement was issued jointly with Education Minister Hekia Parata under the headline “Educators congratulated on NY Honours”.
Seventeen New Zealanders received New Year Honours for services to education.
No similar statement was issued to congratulate New Zealanders for services to science.
The disappointing reason for this is that – according to our examination of the Honours List – scientists were overlooked for New Year honours this time.
But Ms Jacqueline Lindsay Bay, of Auckland, was honoured for services to science and education. She became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit)
Ms Bay is founding Director of LENScience, an innovative science education programme established in 2006 that creates opportunities for schools and scientists to work together to promote the development of scientific literacy and enable the translation of scientific knowledge into community understanding.