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Budget puts RS&T excellence at heart of New Zealand’s future

Budget puts RS&T excellence and relevance at heart of New Zealand’s future

Anthony Scott, chief executive of Science New Zealand, commented on the 2014 Budget:

“Today’s Budget strengthens areas critical to a productive, competitive economy. It builds on New Zealand’s advantages of our people, our environment and our knowledge.

“It addresses three things. First, the need to ramp up private sector investment in RS&T; second, to increase the number of graduates with vital science and technology-based skills; and third, ongoing support enabling our researchers to create new knowledge and technologies that are excellent, innovative and make a difference for New Zealanders.

“The tax initiatives for start-up companies and on intangible assets such as patents will particularly help smaller companies through the tough early stages. The move reinforces the message that RS&T is vital to growing high value jobs and opportunities here.

“Increased tuition subsidies for science, agriculture and some health sciences is most welcome. These are high-cost areas for students and institutions, yet vital to the national economy, and we have not been getting as many graduates as we need. Reducing barriers is important and also signals the value New Zealand places on these graduates.

“Centres of Research Excellence will increase from 6 to ten, including a Maori-focussed CoRE. It is pleasing to see that the CoRES which did not make it to the final 6 in the recent round will have another opportunity. A number of these play an extremely valuable role in developing newer researchers and capabilities in areas of critical importance to New Zealand’s economy and society.

“Additional contestable funding of $57 million over 4 years will be welcomed by all researchers. It continues progress towards the goal of 0.8 per cent of GDP spent on public sector RS&T investment. Overseas experience indicates that this is the tilting point at which private sector R&D suddenly powers away.

“The Budget also makes clear that the government sees science-based policy advice and research as vital components across all its activities. The increased funding for work on fresh water is an example. It recognises the link between excellent, relevant RS&T and the wealth and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

“Now we look forward to the release by the Minister of his National Statement of Science Investment. We support science research funding being more flexible, less complex and more closely focussed on research that is excellent and relevant to New Zealand.”

Science New Zealand promotes the value of science and technology for New Zealand. Its Board comprises the CEOs of the Crown Research Institutes which collectively employ 3,600 staff, with annual revenues of $631 million. Two-thirds of the nation’s publicly-funded science researchers, outside health and IT, work at CRIs and CRIs undertake three-quarters of research contracted out by business.

The Crown Research Institutes undertake science research for public and private sector markets in New Zealand and abroad. They also provide the essential underlying capability in people, facilities and knowledge for the long term future of science and innovation in New Zealand.

The Crown Research Institutes are: AgResearch, ESR, GNS Science, LandcareResearch, NIWA, Plant & Food Research, and Scion.


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