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Govt strengthening Centres of Research Excellence

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills & Employment
26 August 2013 Media Statement
Govt strengthening Centres of Research Excellence

The Government is investing in stronger Centres of Research Excellence to boost innovation and research-led learning in New Zealand’s universities, Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

Additional funding in Budget 2013 of $9.5 million is being backed up by a clearer mission statement and stronger performance expectations for the centres.

“Centres of Research Excellence play an important and unique role in supporting world-class research, with positive economic and social and benefits to New Zealand,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Government has completed a review of the centres and found their work supports the Government’s goals for innovation and economic growth. We’re seeing evidence of increased quantity and quality of research, greater collaboration and impacts for industry, public services and the environment. This confirms the value of our on-going investment.”

The Government is making some changes to optimise the centres’ performance by clarifying its expectations and establishing more transparent performance management.

“With the additional funding of $3.169 million per annum, provided through Budget 2013, we expect to see the centres continue to go from strength to strength,” Mr Joyce says.

Applications for the new contestable funding round are open with funding announcements expected to be made in May 2014. Funding will begin on 1 January 2015 for a six-year period to 2020.

The Royal Society of New Zealand has been contracted by the Tertiary Education Commission to establish necessary processes to make funding recommendations to the TEC.

Information is available at: http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/programmes/funds/cores/.

ENDS

Questions and Answers

What is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE)?
CoREs are research networks with researchers working together on commonly agreed work programmes. Currently, each CoRE is hosted by a tertiary education institution and comprises a number of partner organisations which can include universities, Crown Research Institutes, private research organisations and wānanga. Most CoREs have close working connections within their wider community of interest.

The seven CoREs that receive government funding cover research in areas such as public health, Māori development, bio-security, food science, ecology, biomedical science and nanotechnology.

What is the purpose of the CoREs fund?
The CoREs fund was established in 2001 to encourage the development of collaborative tertiary education-based research. The CoREs policy was designed to address fragmentation across the tertiary education, research, and science and innovation systems, which is a barrier to concentrated research effort in academic disciplines.

How much funding do CoREs receive?
The CoREs were funded through the most recent selection round which was held in 2007. Total annual budgeted amount for the CoREs is currently $31.69 million per year.

Why did the Government review the CoREs?
The original CoREs policy has not been reviewed since its establishment in 2001. Since this time, government priorities for tertiary education, research, and science and innovation have shifted to a stronger focus on the contribution of these areas to economic growth.

The review aimed to assess the role and contribution of the CoREs in supporting innovation through knowledge and technology transfer and commercialisation of research ideas, and their contribution to economic development through support for business research development. The review also looked at ways to strengthen the monitoring and assessment of the CoREs policy to monitor future alignment with government priorities and the value of any future investment.

What is meant by clarifying the role and expectation of CoREs?
The new mission statement specifies the characteristics of CoREs and sets out high level expectations, including roles of the tertiary education institution hosts and partners, and the role, performance and achievements of CoREs. The new mission statement is intended to provide guidance to current or prospective CoREs when preparing selection bids and to support more transparent operating practices.
Specifically, it will clarify roles and provide expectations in the following areas:
• the type of research carried out by CoREs
• collaboration and collaborative practices within CoREs
• engagement by CoREs with end-users and stakeholders
• the role of CoREs in the tertiary system
• the role of the CoRE at a national and international level.

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