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First National Science Challenge announced

First National Science Challenge announced

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced the launch of the first National Science Challenge, the High Value Nutrition Challenge, which will receive confirmed funding of up to $30.6 million over five years.

The objective of the High- Value Nutrition Challenge (Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga) is to develop high value foods with validated health benefits. The High- Value Nutrition Challenge is led by researchers from the University of Auckland, the University of Otago, Massey University, AgResearch, and Plant and Food Research.

“This is an important milestone for the National Science Challenges and New Zealand’s science sector. Over the past six months researchers from a range of institutions and across disciplines have been developing Challenge proposals,” Mr Joyce says.

“The proposal developed by the High- Value Nutrition Challenge consortium is the first example of how the Challenge process has brought researchers together to focus on the big science-based issues facing the country.”

The National Science Challenges are designed to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand.

Ten National Science Challenges have been identified. The High Value Nutrition Challenge will examine the health benefits of food. For example, in the area of mobility: Can foods improve suppleness, flexibility and recovery from injury? And in the area of child health: Can health-giving foods lift immunity levels and increase tolerance to allergies?

“Food and beverages are important contributors to the growth of New Zealand exports. This Challenge will focus on how New Zealand can add value through science to our primary produce,” Mr Joyce says.

“New Zealand has world-class food scientists. The Challenge will provide the science to underpin and enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe foods with validated health benefits.”

The funding of $30.6 million has been approved subject to the finalisation of contract conditions. After a review at the end of five years another $53.2 million becomes available for a second five year period. Along with relevant Crown research institute core funding of $97 million over ten years, total funding for the High-Value Nutrition Challenge is up to $180.8 million over 10 years.

Work is progressing on the other proposals in tranche one—the Deep South and Resilience to Natures Challenges. Proposals for the remaining seven Challenges are due at the end of April, with funding announcements set to be made in 2014.

Each Challenge includes both new funding and funds that will become available as current MBIE research contracts directly related to each Challenge mature. The new Challenge money comprises $73.5 million over four years in Budget 2013, in addition to the $60 million over four years allocated in Budget 2012; and continuing funding of $30.5 million per year thereafter.


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