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Science now seen as vital to growing our national wealth


Science now seen as vital to growing our national wealth

“Practical steps that will help this country dramatically improve its national wealth.” That is the response from the Science New Zealand chief executive Anthony Scott to the 2012 Budget.

“It is science-based innovation that is enabling New Zealand to become more productive, sell more to the world and thus increase our standard of living.”

He identifies four actions as most important: (money over four years)

Increasing the subsidies for science and engineering at tertiary level, with $59 million;
Committing to the establishment of an Advanced Technology Institute, with $90 million in operating funding and $76 million in capital funding;
Committing to getting work under way around National Science Challenges, with $60 million allocated.
And there is $270 million extra for the Primary Growth Partnership from government and industry (no time period for approval).

“While there is little or no new expenditure in most areas, this Budget increases investment in building science capability now and longer term,” says Scott.

“Science & Innovation is one of only three areas, alongside Health and Education, to get new spending.

“These commitments reflect a sea-change in how New Zealanders regard science investment. A strong science base is now seen as vital to improving our future. It is pleasing to see the government treat science investment as a must-have element in our national infrastructure.”

“Increased subsidies supporting science and engineering tertiary study will help address the skills deficit in these critical areas. This is vital if we are to develop more and higher value exports, and protect and enhance our environment. To lift exports to 40 per cent of national GDP by 2025, we need to treble the private sector’s R&D workforce.

“The transformation of IRL into an Advanced Technology Institute has now got a timetable for action. The science research and business community also needs certainty around the ATI’s form and function. The concept of a nimble, better resourced entity helping build New Zealand’s high value manufacturing and services is welcome.

“National Science Challenges also gets a timetable. CRIs are keen to work with government, businesses, communities and others to help define the big challenges of fundamental importance to New Zealand, and which are currently beyond the ability of any one group to resolve. Let’s get cracking on the innovative solutions they require, to make a difference for our economy, environment and society.”


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