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Research collaboration increases three-fold

Research collaboration increases three-fold

It’s a well known fact that collaboration is the key to success – especially when it comes to science and innovation.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is celebrating the fact that collaboration amongst the people and organisations involved in its new sustainability contracts has increased three-fold compared with previous investment rounds.

The Foundation’s Group Manager of Investment Operations, Peter Benfell, says the researchers, who were allocated a total of $57 million per annum, worked hard to put their collective skills together in a way that best addresses the complexity of the problems at hand.

“The new research contracts will ensure our agricultural, horticultural and forestry industries will prosper, without damaging the environment,” says Peter.

“Some excellent examples of collaborative programmes include research that will help reduce economic losses caused by weeds and pests and protect the natural values of our lakes, rivers and groundwater resources within farming areas.”

The increase of involvement by regional councils, central Government departments and industry groups has also increased markedly. In one area, co-funding by these groups has increased from $1 million in last year’s programmes to $8 million in this investment round.

“The increased level of co-funding gives us confidence that the research is well-targeted and will be used by the end user organisations”, says Peter.

One of the new research programmes that involves both inter-organisation partnerships and end user funding is a collaboration on plant bio-protection brought together by Lincoln University’s National Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies (one of the government’s recently established Centres of Research Excellence)

Headed by Bio-Protection Centre Director, Professor Alison Stewart, the research will focus on a whole-systems approach to pest and disease management. By increasing knowledge of natural ecological processes, the researchers aim to develop more environmentally friendly pest management strategies using beneficial insects, micro-organisms and natural products. They will also be looking at strategies to increase plant health.

The project has been funded at $2.6 million per annum for five years and includes partnerships with AgResearch, Crop and Food, HortResearch, Landcare Research, Forest Research, University of Waikato, Massey University, The University of Auckland, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, Silver Bullet Forest Research Ltd, and Biodiscovery Ltd.

The project also has substantial co-funding from industry (such as PF Olsen, Carter Holt Harvey, VegFed, FAR, Zespri and Landcorp).

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