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New Zealand joins synchrotron partnership

Thu, 12 Aug 2004

New Zealand joins synchrotron partnership

New Zealand agreed AUD$5 million contribution to Australian Synchrotron

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Victoria's Premier, Steve Bracks, and New Zealand's Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Pete Hodgson, today announced New Zealand had agreed in principle to contribute AUD$5 million towards the Australian Synchrotron beamlines.

Mr Bracks said scientific collaboration between New Zealand and Australia was vital for the economic development of both countries, and warmly welcomed New Zealand participation in the Australian Synchrotron project.

"The Australian Synchrotron, Victoria's biggest ever investment in R&D infrastructure, is running to plan, on time and on budget to start working for the region's science and industry in 2007," Mr Bracks said.

"Science partnerships strengthened through the Australian Synchrotron will boost Australian and New Zealand R&D, and help grow business and jobs on both sides of the Tasman."

Mr Hodgson said the Australian Synchrotron would give the New Zealand science community ready access to an essential tool for groundbreaking research.

"The Victorian Government has been bold and farsighted in committing to the capital cost of this crucial science infrastructure," Mr Hodgson said

"New Zealand R&D will benefit substantially, and our in-principle commitment announced today will give this nation a seat at the table in determining how the facility develops.

"Like Australia, New Zealand has so-called 'suitcase scientists' forced to go to the Northern Hemisphere to undertake leading edge R&D. This new Australian facility will bring the tools they need much closer."

Victoria's Innovation Minister, John Brumby, said the funding commitment was great news for the project, on top of the over $20 million committed by Melbourne University, Monash University, the CSIRO, ANSTO and Scoresby-based company MiniFAB.

"With the support of New Zealand and these organisations, we are on track to have all the beamline funding in place well before the facility is commissioned," Mr Brumby said.

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Short Q&A

What is the benefit to New Zealand of this investment? This investment gives the New Zealand science community unprecedented access to one of only a handful of such facilities globally. Synchrotrons are essential tools for new science. They are used for innovative industrial and academic research in almost all areas of science.

Industry will also benefit through increased retention of New Zealand's best scientists, faster research outcomes and a greater share of the intellectual property associated with synchrotron-based research. The vast network of expertise available through the synchrotron will make finding the answers to industrial problems easier and quicker.

What is a synchrotron? A synchrotron creates beams of extremely intense light (a million times brighter than the sun or conventional lab equipment) that can be used for many different types of research simultaneously.

What is a beamline? Beamlines are channels through which high-energy light streams are directed so that they can be used in experiments.

What are such facilities used for? The high energy light stream can be used for carrying out research in the following fields: biotechnology, medicine, environmental sciences, agriculture, mineral exploration, materials development, engineering and forensics.

Examples of current synchrotron research include work on a tuberculosis protein to help the search for new anti-TB drugs, new and more efficient materials for fibre optics, and cheese contamination.

NEW ZEALAND BECOMES SYNCHROTRON FUNDING PARTNER · New Zealand has made an in principle commitment to contribute AUD$5 million towards the capital funding for Australian Synchrotron beamlines. · New Zealand's contribution to the synchrotron will be funded equally by the New Zealand Government and research providers, including universities and Crown Research Institutes. (ie a 50:50 split between government and providers). · The Victorian Government is investing $157.2 million in the construction of the Australian Synchrotron. The total cost of the facility, including an initial suite of nine beamlines, is $206.3 million. · Victoria's synchrotron investment covers the cost of the building and the synchrotron machine itself-the light source required to generate intense beams of light (mainly x-rays) for scientific experimentation. · The balance of funding is required to cover the cost of an initial suite of beamlines-the long vacuum tubes radiating from the central machine, down which the beams of light travel to experimental stations. · The Australian and New Zealand synchrotron science communities, through the National Scientific Advisory Committee, have developed the science case for the initial suite of beamlines. The proposed beamlines are considered highly desirable for a balanced set of capabilities to meet 95% of both Australia's and New Zealand's anticipated research and industry needs. · Funding of $20 million towards the initial suite of beamlines has already been committed by CSIRO, ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation), The University of Melbourne and Monash University, which is also providing the land. Private micro-technology company MiniFab is providing $600,000 towards clean-room laboratories associated with the industrial micro- and nano- technology beamline. · The Bracks Government's commitment to innovation initiatives totals >$900 million-the largest ever investment in science, technology and innovation made by any Australian State.

NEW ZEALAND · New Zealand is joining the project to enable its researchers, already using synchrotron facilities in nine overseas countries, to undertake leading edge research in areas of substantial importance to the nation. · As the Royal Society of New Zealand has said in its science case for investment in the Australian Synchrotron, the project offers an "unparalleled opportunity to invest in New Zealand science and technology, through partnership in a regional science facility of international significance". · Currently around 51 user groups, each with numbers of scientists, are using synchrotron techniques to drive innovation.

ENDS

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