The New Zealand government will invest NZ$212 million of new funding in research, science and technology over the next four years, it announced in its May budget.

“The government is committed to fostering growth through innovation and a strong investment in science underpins that,” Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson said. “We have delivered on that commitment by increasing research, science and technology funding by $190 million — almost 45 per cent — since we took office in 1999.

“This year’s budget includes a major boost to funding for science and technology that improves the competitiveness of New Zealand industries. We are also increasing the funding available for research partnerships with industry, to help turn good ideas into innovative new products and services.

“Overall, this is a science budget that continues to strengthen New Zealand’s innovation system by supporting a high[1]quality science and technology sector with vibrant national and global connections.”

New funding of $54 million in 2004-05 includes a $3.3 million capital injection. The increase brings the total public investment in research, science and technology for 2004-05 to $621 million, an increase of more than 9 per cent.

“It is,” Mr. Bryce Heard, president of the Association of Crown Research Institutes, said, “a vote of confidence in the ability of science enterprises and scientists to help transform New Zealand.”

Mr. Heard said that the government’s increased funding in this budget challenges the private sector to continue with increasing its own investment.

The key points for science in the government’s budget are:

  • Research for Industry funding, which supports strategic research underpinning the development of new products, processes and services, is increasing by $75 million over four years.
  • Funding for the successful Research Consortia programmed is being increased by more than $17 million over four years and by $2.5 million to $17 million next year.
  • An International Investment Opportunities Fund will be open to researchers who have the opportunity to participate in international research collaborations. The fund will have $3 million available in 2004-2005, increasing to $4 million in 2005-2006 and $5 million from 2006-07 onwards.
  • More stable long-term funding for Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) comes through an increase in Organizational Capability funding, which will increase by $4 million in 2004-05 to $32 million, and by up to $10 million in reprioritized funding in 2005-06, conditional on further policy development.
  • The New Economy Research Fund increases by $21 million over four years. The fund supports new areas of research with the potential to create new types of business for New Zealand. Funding will total $70 million for 2004- 05.
  • Environmental Research funding increases by $21 million over four years, with an increase of $6 million in 2004-05 bringing the total for the year to $94 million. Priorities for the new funding include research into sustainable development opportunities, updating nationally important collections and databases, and ecosystems research.
  • Funding for Health Research increases by $22 million over four years, with new funding of $5.5 million a year. Total funding for this year is $48 million.
  • The Technology for Industry Fellowships programmed, which enables students and experienced researchers to complete R&D projects in companies, is expanding with $10 million of new funding over the next four years.
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