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Hodgson: MacDiarmid Young Scientists Awards

14 August, 2008
MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards

Good evening young achievers, supporters of young achievers and distinguished guests. I would like to welcome you along with representatives of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and the major sponsors of the MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards.

It’s a pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate the achievements of our young scientists, in particular, this year’s award winners.

Tonight, as we gather to recognise the excellence of our young science leaders, we have the opportunity to reflect on the vital role young scientists play in New Zealand.

As you all know, research, science and technology are essential to New Zealand’s future prosperity. RS&T contributes to New Zealand’s sustainable development and the well being of all New Zealanders, and enhances our knowledge base.

There are some incredibly talented young scientists working in areas that are making a big difference for New Zealand and the world.

I’d like to acknowledge that in most cases, that difference might not happen overnight, but it does happen.
In some cases that difference will occur over a long time. In some cases it won’t be obvious that the genesis of the changes we see emerged from the creativity and hard work of a scientist.
However, the difference you make as young scientists is vital. I urge you to continue in this field, and to inspire others to work in this field.

We have world-class research being carried out by dedicated young researchers. These awards uncover and recognise the innovative and complex work they are undertaking. All our young scientists here tonight are proof that New Zealand science continues to be vibrant and in good heart.

I’m convinced that New Zealand science continues to go from strength to strength.

I’m proud to see that today, more than ever before there are more opportunities available for young scientists. Our young scientists are making the most of these opportunities. You are communicating the value of science widely and conducting innovative science. You are excellent role models for those even younger than yourselves. It’s great to see that the number of New Zealand PhD graduates also continues to rise, and the diversity of our graduates is increasing steadily.

You are in a unique position where you can understand the work of those gone before you, but also hold your own ideas in mind. You are able to be courageous and challenging enough to push conventional boundaries.

You are working in an increasingly complex world, where the role and application of science is becoming increasingly important in providing contemporary solutions.

Total spend on RS&T continues to increase, from government and the private sector. The government has recently made some exciting changes to the science system to further support New Zealand science, and the work of our young scientists:

• We have made our RS&T funding environment more stable. Unique to New Zealand, this provides more certainty for careers in the science sector.
• We have recently introduced a tax credit for businesses investing in research science and technology. This is already stimulating additional investment in RS&T by the business sector.
• We have recently launched the Fast Forward fund. The fund is an investment of $700 million for new research, development and innovation. It will support transformation of New Zealand’s economy into a smart, sustainable, high value supplier of the goods and services, demanded by global markets.
• We have launched the Skills Strategy Action Plan. This will advance all levels of skills, including literacy, language and numeracy, trade and technical skills, and degree-level qualifications, as well as specific management and leadership skills.
• Finally, we have just released the Advanced Skills Action Plan. This strategy will help government to work with the RS&T sector to attract, retain and develop top people, talent like our winners and nominees here tonight.

I’ll finish with a quote from Albert Einstein that I think sums up what it takes to be a scientist ‘The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science’.

I wish the young scientists here tonight many beautiful experiences in their careers.

Thank you.


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