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Science Body Challenges New Zealand Business

SCIENCE BODY ISSUES CHALLENGE TO NEW ZEALAND BUSINESS

Each year the Government spends some $600 million on research, science and technology. This represents about $300 per New Zealand family. Are we getting value for money?

At a series of seminars around the country this week, the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has made it very clear that we are, and that that value is increasing.

Foundation chairman, Neil Richardson, said in Auckland today that from July 2000 the Foundation will be investing in large coordinated research programmes designed specifically to contribute greater wealth and well being for New Zealand.

The Foundation, which is one of a number of agencies working to stimulate innovation and knowledge creation in New Zealand, is currently undergoing major change.

“Our emphasis in past years has been on allocating funds to science projects across various sectors. Our focus now is on investing in more targeted science and innovation which will result in economic, social and environmental benefits,” Mr Richardson said.

“We are determined to create wealth for the country and we’re challenging both the science and the business communities to propose new ways in which they can help build the country’s knowledge base and innovation system. If they come up with good ideas, we’ll invest in them.”

“These programmes cover a very broad range of activity, from information and communications; planning for sustainable cities, and wood fibre-based projects to Maori advancement; new manufacturing systems and enterprises, and tourism, recreation and leisure.”

Chief Executive of the Foundation, Steve Thompson, said the rationale underlying this change is the urgent need to lift New Zealand’s game.

“Our economic performance has suffered in recent years from a brain drain, and too few students choosing science and technology at the tertiary level. Along with a low level of business investment in RS&T, this has led to a vicious circle of little opportunity and little incentive to create and use new knowledge to innovate,” Dr Thompson said.

“Our challenge is to create a virtuous circle – one where knowledge feeds innovation and creates a thirst for knowledge.”

The seminar in Auckland is the first of six around the country. The seminars will discuss the Foundation’s implementation of the Foresight process and its role in the Government’s Blueprint for Change.

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