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National Science Challenge Panel appointed

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister of Science & Innovation

7 February 2013

Media Statement

Strictly embargoed until 5am, Thursday 7 February 2013

National Science Challenge Panel appointed

A panel of top researchers and some budding young scientists have been appointed to identify New Zealand’s National Science Challenges for the Government.

The 11-person panel has been tasked with identifying the biggest science challenges facing New Zealand and will be chaired by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman.

“Science is essential to addressing some of the key issues facing our nation – whether it be challenges like improving water quality while at the same time lifting our farm productivity, or the state of our health,” says Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce. “This panel will identify the top science challenges New Zealand needs to solve over the next five to ten years.”

The Government has set aside $60 million funding from Budget 2012 for new investment into the National Science Challenges.

“Over the last few months we have had excellent input from both the public and the science sector, with hundreds of submissions, ideas and proposals on what these key challenges should be. The panel will take this information and recommend between six and 10 final challenges to Cabinet for approval.

“The final challenges will help focus our overall science funding investment, and help foster links across the research community in New Zealand to maximise the impact of work already underway in the Challenge areas.

“The panel contains a mix of experienced and up-and-coming young scientists, from a wide range of fields to ensure that we are looking at our country’s scientific potential from a variety of angles.”

Members who have been appointed to the panel are:

· Prof William Denny (who leads the Medicinal Chemistry Group at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre);

· Dr Ian Ferguson (Departmental Science Adviser for the Ministry for Primary Industries/Chief Scientist of Plant and Food Research);

· Prof Peter Hunter (Professor of Engineering Science and Director of the Bioengineering Institute at the University of Auckland, and Director of Computational Physiology at Oxford University);

· Prof Mary O’Kane (NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Australia);

· Prof Jacqueline Rowarth (Professor of Agribusiness at the University of Waikato);

· Prof Richie Poulton (Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, Otago University);

· Charles Royal (Member of MBIE Science Board; Former Director of Graduate Studies and Research at Te Wānanga o-Raukawa, Ōtaki);

· Prof David Penman (Consultant, previously Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor Research, Lincoln University);

· Elf Eldridge (PhD student at the MacDiarmid Institute);

· Rachael Wiltshire (2012 Dux of Samuel Marsden Collegiate, Wellington and a 2012 Royal Society of New Zealand science prize winner).

The panel will meet in late February to consider the challenge proposals and make recommendations on a number of challenges. Cabinet is expected to make a decision on the final challenges in April.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment will then work with the science sector from May to August to develop detailed themes and projects and decide how selected Challenges will be led. Part of this will involve building a map of current research to cluster around the chosen Challenges and identify gaps and opportunities in existing research.

A Statement of Science Investment Priorities will also be developed this year to determine the total balance of resources to be allocated to the challenges and other science priorities over time.

To see the panel’s Terms of Reference and criteria for selecting the National Science Challenges go to: http://www.msi.govt.nz/update-me/major-projects/national-science-challenges/

ends

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