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University Welcomes Partnership Awards

University Of Auckland Welcomes Partnerships For Excellence Awards

The University of Auckland today welcomed the Government's decision to award funding of up to $12 million to two University projects under its Partnerships for Excellence programme.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon says the funding will support University initiatives in plastics research and health innovation.

"Both projects meet national needs, and will do much to advance knowledge and understanding in areas which are key to the nation's future wellbeing," he said.

Under the Partnerships for Excellence programme, the Government matches dollar-for-dollar up to specified amounts private sector funds raised by institutions for the approved projects.

Institute of Health Innovation

The Government has awarded up to $7 million to the Institute of Health Innovation, which will be a world-class centre for graduate training, research and entrepreneurship focusing on health innovations including new technology, systems and research-based approaches.

These innovations - some of which are already active - range from mobile phone text messages to help teenagers stop smoking, to comprehensive electronic patient records that include x-ray results, medication information and treatment history.

Professor McCutcheon says the institute will use information technology to improve the nation's health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

"A major world-wide concern for governments is the escalating cost of healthcare, the increasing burden of chronic disease, the shortage of health professionals, and the diminishing returns from increased spending. The situation is no different in New Zealand with health costs rising at a greater rate than our GDP. This is clearly not sustainable.

"The Institute of Health Innovation will focus on mechanisms for understanding and analysing the origin of these costs and delivering more efficient and cost-effective healthcare. With the kiwi can-do attitude and a public who are open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, New Zealand is in a unique position to advance quickly."

Located within the School of Population Health at the University's Tamaki Campus, the institute will be unique in New Zealand, building on partnerships between the tertiary sector, private sector, Government and the community.

Centre for Plastics Innovation and Technology

The Centre for Plastics Innovation and Technology will receive up to $5 million in funding from Government.

The project, which aims to advance New Zealand's plastics industry, will provide a world-class innovation centre for developing advanced polymeric materials, industry specific research, graduate and industry training, and application of leading-edge technologies in manufacturing.

Professor McCutcheon says the centre will meet a national need.

"The combined turnover of the New Zealand plastics industry and the polymer composites sector exceeds $3 billion. While this is significant, the plastics business globally exceeded $800 billion at the end of 2002.

"Plastics New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have developed a framework for advancing the sector over the next 8-15 years to make it more competitive internationally by growing turnover to $4 billion, increasing exports, initiating training and establishing a 'centre of excellence'.

"The Centre for Plastics Innovation and Technology will play a pivotal role as this 'centre of excellence' and already the industry has committed $5 million in funding to it."

Located at the University's Tamaki Campus and working in association with the Centre for Advanced Composite Materials, the Centre for Plastics Innovation and Technology will feature close collaboration between academia and industry.

ENDS

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