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ACRI Response To Budget 2002

The nation's largest providers of science research, the crown research institutes, welcome today's Budget reaching the $500 million mark for Vote: Research, Science and technology and the emphasis upon increasing New Zealand's human capability.

However there is concern that funding for core science areas is, in real terms, declining. These areas include the environment and New Zealand's major production sectors (for horticulture, farming, forestry and marine).

Anthony Scott, executive director for ACRI (Association of Crown Research Institutes) said:

"This trend does not help us retain, let alone attract, the scientist we need in these vital areas,

"We welcome the increases in blue sky research for the Marsden Fund, increasing public/private partnerships and some new areas of research. However investment in new areas should not be at the expense of New Zealand's core environmental and productive areas.

"The linkage in this Budget of education, training, research and growing New Zealand's economic, social and environmental wealth is good news. It is the beginning of a concerted response to a long-standing concern for CRIs: developing and maintaining New Zealand's human capital in innovation.

"We endorse the commitment to human capital - people - as the base of this country's economic transformation. Once trained however, CRIs need to have enough money to employ some of these people.

"Quality as well as quantity is important to ensure that we have the scientists and technologists needed to deliver New Zealand's growth aspirations.

"CRIs have been collaborating in tertiary education for many years, from our own pockets. We can do so much more with more funding and are keen to do so.

"Scientists need certainty of career path. Change is a wonderful and stimulating part of science, constantly advancing to deliver increasing economic and environmental benefits. There needs to be commitment to long run research even in areas not currently fashionable.

"New Zealand's wealth comes from environmental research as much as directly economic areas. It underpins our clean, green image.

"This Budget challenges the private sector to become more involved both in so-called mature areas of science and newer areas of research. That is a real punt when New Zealand's private sector has traditionally been reluctant or unable to fund necessary research.

"We are keen to ensure that the balance between seeking immediate commercial returns and ensuring long run research is not compromised - the sort of research that can open up whole new, undreamed of areas of opportunity.

"More money to encourage private sector involvement in research and uptake of technology must be good. The more New Zealand businesses see that science and technology can drive their growth, the better. It is the only way this nation will regain its place in the top half of the OECD tables."

Ends

For further information please contact; Anthony Scott Executive Director of ACRI 027 222 7469 or 04 913 9978


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