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Canterbury University to build world-first colour x-ray scan

Canterbury University to build world-first colour x-ray scanner with govt funds

By Fiona Rotherham

Sept. 11 (BusinessDesk) - The University of Canterbury said it will build the world’s first human colour x-ray scanner, with the help of a six-year, $12 million, government grant announced today.

Auckland and Waikato universities were the other big winners in the government's latest round of science research funding.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today $139 million over six years will be invested in 48 new science research programmes out of 208 applications.

Around a third of the funding in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's 2014 science investment round went to the University of Auckland. It attracted more than $44 million for a number of projects including one that received the single biggest funding under the High Value Manufacturing and Services Research Fund - $13.1 million for The Biocide Tool Box,

The University of Waikato got two major grants - $12.6 million for Titanium Technologies New Zealand and $10.6 million for research into security technology services in the cloud.

University of Canterbury associate professor Anthony Butler said the funding for the world's first full spectral CT colour x-ray scanner designed for human clinical trials would be a revolution in medical imaging. It will enables medical researchers to measure the components of human tissues and some drugs to improve medical diagnosis and disease management.

"To date, New Zealand universities have worked with local industry to sell pre-clinical scanners to medical researchers around the world. This will provide health benefits, cutting-edge medical training and key international links," he said.

The MARS spectral scanners to be built by the university will focus on heart disease and bone implants such as hip replacement, but will also look at helping cancer researchers and drug developers, he said. When ready the scanners will be hosted by the Otago Medical School in Christchurch and Lincoln University will provide large animals for testing.

``This will provide us with international links with dozens of international universities, many of whom now visit New Zealand to test their pharmaceuticals on our pre-clinical scanners. We will also forge business links with international companies including healthcare organisations and many local industries including high precision mechanical companies and electronic manufacturers," Butler said. The human medical imaging market is currently worth US$27.4 billion and growing at 4.4 percent a year,

Most of this year's funding fell under the high-value manufacturing and services sector, with $95.24 million invested over the next six years. The successful proposals ranged from materials for use in manufacturing, biocides, security tools and x-ray imaging.

For the first time funds were also allocated under the second phase of the two-year Smart Ideas funding initiative, where investments support the development of ideas-driven research. The second phase is aimed at helping applicants further their smart ideas into marketable products. Nine proposals were approved to proceed to phase two, with topics ranging from implantable devices for monitoring chronic disease to novel pest-control technologies.

The final investment decisions were made by the Science Board, following a robust peer review and assessment process by independent experts.

The new research contracts will commence from Oct 1.


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