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Society welcomes 10-year statement of science investment

Society welcomes 10-year statement of science investment

The Royal Society of New Zealand welcomes the National Statement of Science Investment 20152025, launched at the Society this morning by Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation.

Royal Society of New Zealand President, Professor Richard Bedford, says it is pleasing to see that the Government views science and innovation at the heart of a successful economy and society for New Zealand and is taking a long-term approach to the development of the science system.

“Taking a 10-year approach should allow for greater stability in the science system, which the Society supports.

“We applaud the commitment to raise public investment in science from just over 0.55% of GDP to 0.8% early in the 2020s, as fiscal conditions allow.

“We are pleased to see excellence together with impact as the two pillars that the strategy is built on. The Society believes that building New Zealand’s research capability is best done by promoting excellence.

“Also, it is pleasing the see the definition of impact is much wider than economic returns, incorporating family, health, societal and environmental spheres.”

The Strategy outlines investment in four areas: investigator-led, mission-led, industry-led and tactical funds.

“It is interesting to note that the Government seeks a short-term push on encouraging industry to invest in research and development, aiming to push New Zealand’s low levels of investment in this area up to 1% GDP over the decade.

“Overall, this should lift New Zealand’s total public and private investment in research and development closer to the proportion of GDP that other countries allocate. This is essential to position New Zealand to be a prosperous nation.

“Long-term, the government sees its primary role in the science sector to invest in mission-led and investigator-led research on behalf of the New Zealand public. It will be important to ensure that this supports stable career paths for researchers.

“We agree that additional investment in investigator-led research, such as the Marsden Fund, and mission-led research builds a strong research base in New Zealand and helps New Zealand attract and retain our brightest young people.”

The strategy states that an annual system of performance reports as well as a comprehensive sector-wide evaluation, monitoring and reporting system will be introduced.

“We welcome this,” Professor Bedford says. “It will allow evidence-based decisions about whether current science investments are supporting excellence and generating impacts as expected.”

The document signals other initiatives such as the establishment of regional research centres, developing a new strategy for international engagement and a major redesign of the contestable fund managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Professor Bedford says.

“Overall, we think it’s a very helpful document, well set out with useful illustrations and comparisons to five other small advanced economy countries.

“It provides a clear signal of the intention to lift science investment for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”


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