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More Money For Record Numbers Of Young Scientists

31 October 2001

A record number of young scientists and researchers received funding to work on research and development within businesses in 2000-2001 and an even bigger budget is available for this year.

Technology New Zealand reported a higher uptake in the Technology for Industry (TIF) Fellowships with 185 Fellowships awarded during the year (July 2000 - June 2001), an increase of 114 on the previous year.

Funding for the TIF scheme, run by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, rises from $3.5m to over $4.6m in this year.

TIF Fellowships are designed to support science and technology based projects that develop individuals skills and knowledge in commercial research and development fields. They provide funding which enables University students to carry out business-focussed research allied to their degree, as well as offering opportunities for experienced researchers to contribute to a company's research initiatives.

The result is a boost in technological skills for the company and a solid introduction to commercial realities for the student.

Lins Kerr, of Technology New Zealand, says the availability of more funding is good news for New Zealand business.

"It represents a great opportunity for more companies to link with Universities by engaging a student or researcher to work on a research and development project within the company.

"Feedback from companies tells us they find the links into external knowledge bases, such as Universities, highly beneficial to their business growth and in most cases they continue an informal relationship long after the particular research project is completed," he says.

A further $1.2 million (for 2001/02) is available through the Bright Future Enterprise Scholarships, administered by the Foundation on behalf of the Ministry of Education, aiming to further develop New Zealand's knowledge and economic base.

Enterprise Scholarships encourage linkages between Universities (and other NZQA approved tertiary education institutions) and New Zealand businesses by co-funding degree courses that have a research component (mostly at post-graduate level).

Introduced in 1999, these scholarships help businesses by providing 50/50 funding so they can access research expertise either from a University or through up-skilling their own staff.

Since the Enterprise Scholarships began 75 have been awarded under the original scheme requirements, to a total value of $1.5 million (half funded by Government and half by businesses). In June the scheme was simplified as a result of feedback from businesses and students. As a result there has been a significant increase in applications with an additional 48 applications being funded from the August round alone, worth just under $0.5 million in the 2001/02 year, with most Scholarships being for two-three years duration.

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