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UC expert supports Government’s 10 science challenges

UC expert supports Government’s 10 science challenges to provide a focus for research

May 2, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) expert has come out in support of the Government’s 10 science challenges to provide a focus for research.

The challenges largely focus on health, environmental and economic issues and natural disasters. They include reducing the burden of major health problems and developing high-value foods with validated health benefits.

UC Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engineering) Professor Jan-Evans Freeman says the Government ‘s science challenges are exciting and in some cases such as natural disasters, UC is world leading in our research into life-safe buildings and the effects of liquefaction.

``Our researchers in civil engineering have considerable external funding already to look at these and other issues and the research has already led to novel and safer buildings being constructed in Nelson and Christchurch.

``We have internationally renowned work on engineering technologies for medical advancement particularly at the neo-natal stage, a key aspect mentioned in the health challenge. For environmental matters, UC houses the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management and has the only Forestry School in Australasia.

``We have large national programmes such as the Hazards Platform or the Centres of Research Excellence which have started to address some of the aspects of the challenges. It is exciting to think what the new injection of money combined with the existing effort will be able to achieve for New Zealand, ‘’ Professor Evans-Freeman says.

Science and Innovation Minister Hon Steven Joyce has announced $133.5 million over four years would be provided to support the challenges.

Professor Evans-Freeman says the science challenges will bring together a large cohort of researchers in New Zealand.

``There will be a place for all. Some basic research will be done in universities and some closer-to-market research will quite rightly be done by researchers in the Callaghan Innovation.

``Without basic research, usually done in university laboratories, we would not have many items we now take for granted in health and society, for example the initial discoveries that led to MRI machines, large flat screen TVs or the electric car.

``Research to enhance the capacity of New Zealand to use physical and engineering sciences for economic growth lists many areas currently being investigated by researchers in New Zealand.

``This extra effort and focus on research across the board should achieve its desired outcome of growth for New Zealand more rapidly now because of the welcome extra funding associated with it,’’ Professor Evans-Freeman says.


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