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Positive Budget Impact On Rs&T

The coalition Government’s first budget will have a positive impact on scientific research the President of the Association of Crown Research Institutes (ACRI), Andrew West, said tonight.

“ ACRI congratulates the Government on many aspects of its research investment announced in today’s Budget,” Dr West said.

“Introduction of the grants system for research and development will encourage closer attention by investors in small and medium-sized, technology-sophisticated businesses. In addition, Technology New Zealand will be better positioned to invest in new research related to innovative new businesses.

“Extra investment provided for the New Economy Research Fund will be of particular benefit to the future economy. Projects undertaken by CRIs in response to business and national need will receive a boost from this.

“An increase in funding for the Marsden Fund reflects recognition by the Government that blue skies research is vital. It is further evidence that New Zealand is starting to lift its commitment to science and technology.

“However, it is disappointing that for the second year in a row there is little provision in the budget for extra investment in real terms in genuinely public good research. The country is currently faced by a wide range of intractable environmental problems. These cannot be solved until the causes are better understood, and this relies on more research. A substantially larger research investment in this area is absolutely necessary and long overdue.

“Continued stagnation in the Government’s core strategic research investment concerns CRIs. To counter this stagnation and to keep a very thin capability base intact, a number of CRIs will look to engage their science skills more regularly on the international stage. They need to do so to retain their best research talent for the time when the Government reaffirms its commitment to strategic research. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long.

“Top quality research scientists are in global demand. Unless CRIs, as New Zealand’s leading centres of strategic research, are able to lift salary levels fast and provide the best of opportunities for world-class research, we can expect a significant exodus as competing nations head-hunt our best research talent.

“However, ACRI emphasises that it does see this budget as an important step in the right direction. It is positive in its approach to technological innovation and it pays attention to some of the core needs in research investment,” Dr West said.

For further information: Dr Andrew West, President, ACRI
Tel: 025-445-487

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