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Funding for world-class research facility in Chch.

31 May 2002--Embargoed until 1.30pm Media Statement

Jim Anderton announces funding for world-class research facility in Christchurch

The Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton announced today a government grant of more than $333,000 to help establish a cutting edge research facility at Canterbury University.

The money will fund the Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab) project, a co-venture with the University of Washington in Seattle. The Christchurch facility is only the second of its kind in the world.

The HIT Lab focuses on simplifying a users interaction with their computer. By shifting their attention away from a “mouse-only” environment, researchers can concentrate on simpler, more natural methods of accessing monitors and keyboards.

Jim Anderton is impressed by the quality of the HIT Lab research to date. “This project is an ideal example of the Government’s regional development strategy in New Zealand.

“Our goals are to promote world-class innovation, strengthen our global links and boost our capabilities in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the creative industries.

“The HIT Lab meets all these aims, as well as offering New Zealand businesses the opportunity to become HIT Lab consortium members.

“Businesses that participate in this consortium will have access to technological development opportunities and direct lines of communication with international academic and commercial networks.

“They will also have the chance to contribute to the direction of this research and gain access to the latest advances in user interface technology.

“HIT Lab New Zealand illustrates what can be achieved through innovative public-private partnerships.”

The grant was facilitated by Industry New Zealand and consists of:

- A $281,250 (incl gst) from the Sector Initiative Fund

- A $50,000 grant for a feasibility study

The original HIT Lab was established at the University of Washington in Seattle by Dr Tom Furness and is a world-leader in virtual reality technology. HIT Lab NZ is the only facility in the world to be annexed to HIT Lab Seattle.

The University of Washington has gifted HIT Lab New Zealand with intellectual property and equipment. They will also be arranging technology transfers to assist with future research.

In addition, the University of Canterbury and the Canterbury Development Corporation have worked together to support the project since its inception in 2000.

The University of Canterbury are providing the physical premises and the initial faculty staff. They have also structured the HIT Lab so it is a Type 3 Research Centre, which means it will be an independent, inter-disciplinary faculty able to offer its own degree courses.

The Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) is promoting the HIT Lab to New Zealand companies and has also recruited key staff. Currently, they are underwriting the costs of establishing the HIT Lab and have seconded a staff member to the HIT lab to be a project manager through its establishment phase.

Both the CDC and the University of Canterbury have also undertaken substantial ongoing financial commitments to the HIT Lab New Zealand project.


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