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Govt concentrates science spend in three areas

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 12 NZPA - The Government says the bulk of its this year's main science funding round -- about $48 million a year -- is going into high-tech manufacturing, freshwater research, and boosting export earnings from primary production.

"We are backing some of New Zealand's most excellent scientific teams --$48m into 42 contracts with 18 Crown research institutes, universities and private sector research organisations," said Foundation for Research, Science and Technology chief executive Murray Bain.

The foundation is an arms-length funding agency for science, and Mr Bain said it was investing in the research which best aligned with the Government's view of science as a driver of economic growth.

New investments, in a diverse range such as new diagnostic procedures for breast cancer, improving embryo survival in livestock, and pressing questions around freshwater management, would deliver new knowledge, products and processes to drive the economy forward, he said.

The annual $48m investment includes three main science areas:

? $16.4m in 11 freshwater research projects;

? $20.9m in 16 projects to increase the export returns from food and food processing;

? $10.8m in 15 projects in high-tech manufacturing sector, including medical and health technologies, novel materials, and information and communications technologies.

Mr Bain said the freshwater research strategy was developed in partnership with the Environment Ministry to provide practical research for policymakers and water managers.

All contracts take effect from October 1 and range from two to six years.

Specific investments across the three research areas include:

? Massey University gets $1.05m over three years to give local water managers better data to improve the quality of freshwater in the Manawatu catchment.

? AgResearch gets $11.2m over six years to boost embryo survival in sheep and cattle by 3 percent -- expected to boost primary sector revenue by $150m a year. It will also get $4.1m over six years to identify ways to improve lambs' immune system resistance to parasitic worms.

? Auckland University gets $4m over four years to use computer models to develop new diagnosis and treatment procedures for breast cancer and respiratory disease.

? Waikato University gets $1.2m over two years to improve the production of titanium metal powder, as a key to lifting exports by $100m-200m a year by 2019.

? Victoria University gets $1.3m over two years to develop a suite of methods for nuclear magnetic resonance technologies for companies in the electronics, machining and plastics moulding sector.

? Landcare Research gets $3.6m over six years to reverse a decline in wetlands, and to boost by 15 percent the number and area of wetlands being restored.

? Industrial Research gets $900,000 over three years to develop a new nanotechnology-based advanced instrument to measure fibres in plastic products. It will $1.76m over four years to develop novel coating ingredients, for use in the paint industry.

? The nation's biggest business, Fonterra, gets $750,000 over three years to develop ingredients that prevent the onset of allergic disease in a way that is safe for infants.

? Plant and Food Research gets $12m over six years to help produce new and distinct flavour-style of sauvignon blanc wines.

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