Budget 2016: Steven Joyce flags extra $410.5 million for science research

By Paul McBeth

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced an extra $410.5 million to fund science projects over the next four years in today's budget.

The new funding is expected to push up cross-government spending on science and innovation to $1.6 billion a year by 2019/20, and is part of Joyce's drive to grow business investment in research and development to more than 1 percent of the economy.

The biggest beneficiary of the new funds is the Endeavour Fund with $113.8 million over the period. The fund replaced the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's contestable fund and has been tilted to long-term, high impact, mission-led programmes. A further $66 million has been earmarked for the Marsden Fund and $63 million for the Strategic Science Investment Fund, which provides a mechanism to start, monitor and contrast different initiatives.

"Innovative New Zealand is a major step towards delivering on the vision of the national statement of science investment, and also supports the Business Growth Agenda, which seeks to grow business investment in R&D to over 1 percent of GDP (gross domestic product)," Joyce said in a statement.

"Creating a thriving, independent research sector will have a strong impact on New Zealand's productivity, prosperity and wellbeing."

The funding comes amid grumblings from New Zealand's science community that the government has been too fixated on backing R&D at the commercial end, an accusation Joyce has consistently rejected.

The government will also increase funding to support tertiary education and apprenticeships in science, engineering and agriculture by $256.6 million over the next four years, and provide $94.4 million to support regional economic initiatives.

Those packages include $86.1 million over four years to lift tuition subsidies in science, agriculture, veterinary science, and undergraduate medicine subjects, and $40 million to back regional R&D initiatives.

- BusinessDesk

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