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NZ's Brightest Young Scientists To Be Honoured

New Zealand’s Brightest Young Scientists To Be Honoured

Forging closer links between business and science is essential if New Zealand is to be internationally competitive and build on its reputation for smart ideas says Gowan Pickering, CEO of the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology.

Gowan Pickering says the greatest and most successful scientific and technological breakthroughs come as a result of partnerships.

“Research and development is vital to business if New Zealand is to be up there with the rest of the world. Scientists must have a good understanding of the business sector and how it works and vice versa,” he said.

For that reason the theme of this year’s FiRST Awards, presented annually since 1999 by the Foundation, will be bringing science and business closer together.

The FiRST Awards showcase the outstanding work being done by young scientists and technologists in New Zealand.

Any student currently receiving research funding from the Foundation can enter the awards, by presenting their project on a poster which makes the findings simple, clear and easily understandable

Launching the 2001 FiRST Awards in Wellington, Gowan Pickering announced that a total of eleven awards including, for the first time, a national award, would be given this year. That total is made up of four winners each from the North and South Islands, a regional North Island and South Island winner and an overall winner.

The national award will be presented by New Zealand born Nobel Prize co-winner Professor Alan MacDiarmid, at a function in Christchurch on 29 June. Professor MacDiarmid will also announce the regional South Island award recipient.

The North Island regional award winner will be presented a week earlier, by the Minister for Science, Research and Technology Pete Auckland. ( 21 June).

To reflect the importance of co-operation between the busjness and science and technology sectors, the Foundation has invited the Chief Executives of two of New Zealand’s most successful enterprises to judge this years awards.

Te Papa CEO Dame Cheryll Sotheran will be one of the judges and will speak at the Auckland ceremony while Aoraki Corporation CEO Sir Gil Simpson will be the other judge, and speak at the Christchurch awards function.

Prior to the awards, scientists, researchers and technologists from around New Zealand will gather to look at the importance of research and development in business and practical ways to strengthen the ties.

Gowan Pickering believes this year’s judges will have a ‘tough job’ choosing between a diverse range of exciting projects.

“We launched these awards two years ago as part of a drive to encourage more of our bright young people to take up a career in science and technology,” Gowan Pickering says. “We know that this sector is vibrant, dynamic and world class in terms of its success stories.”

“The FiRST Awards are an excellent way of communicating the positive things that are happening in science and technology research to the rest of New Zealand.”

Last year’s winners received awards for research into yacht racing, climate change, helping lambs survive harsh South Island winters, the effect of globalisation on the pipfruit industry, stress levels in cattle, using the oil content of kawakawa trees in traditional Maori medicines and cleaning products for the dairy industry.

The Foundation for Research, Science & Technology has funded well over 600 research projects during the past eight years.


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