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Strengthening basic science

The public investment in basic science is being strengthened with a funding increase of $33.5 million over the next four years.

The Marsden Fund, which supports excellent 'blue skies' or basic research, will increase by $3 million in 2002-03 to $30.8 million. In the following three years it will increase further, by $4 million in 2003-04, $5.5 million in 2004-05 and $6.5 million in 2005-06.

The New Economy Research Fund, which supports basic science in fields where new commercial sectors and enterprises are emerging, will increase by $2 million in 2002-03 to $55 million. Subsequent increases will be $4 million in 2003-04, $4 million again in 2004-05 and $4.5 million in 2005-06.

“Increasing New Zealand’s knowledge base by investing more in basic research is a high priority for the government,” said Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson. “Basic research advances human knowledge and acts as a catalyst for the innovation system. It is the engine room of new ideas and concepts, driven by top researchers motivated by the pursuit of knowledge.”

Both the Marsden Fund and the New Economy Research Fund are open to all researchers, from both public and private institutions. An example of science supported by the Marsden Fund is research into Bose-Einstein condensate, a fifth state of matter, with the aim of eventually creating atom lasers. Research supported by the New Economy Research Fund includes work on photonics, the development of optical data systems that are faster and cheaper than wire.

“This Budget maintains the steady growth in funding for basic science under the Labour-Alliance Government,” Mr Hodgson said. “Our commitment to strengthening the foundations of the New Zealand knowledge economy is backed up with the necessary investment in fundamental curiosity-driven research.”

Funding for the Marsden and New Economy Research funds was increased by $4.3 million in the last Budget and by $11.5 million in the 2000 Budget.


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