Govt doubles funding for new major science projects

By Kieran Campbell

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The Government will dedicate an extra $70 million to its National Science Challenges, more than doubling its funding for 10 new major research projects.

The $133.5 million in funding will be used for 10 projects aimed at tackling a broad range of science-based issues, including health care, food nutrition, protecting and managing biodiversity, climate change and preparing for natural disasters.

Prime Minister John Key, announcing the additional funding at the Auckland War Memorial Museum this afternoon, said the programme was important for the future of the country's economy.

"Science makes our lives better and science makes us richer as a country," Mr Key said.

The additional $73.5 million will fund the projects as they begin over the next four years and the funding will be new spending as part of this year's budget, Mr Key said.

The original $60 million in funding was from last year's Budget.

The 10 research areas chosen as the first National Science Challenges are:

- Ageing well - sustaining health and wellbeing into the later years of life

- A better start - improving the potential of young New Zealanders to have a healthy and successful life

- Healthier lives - research to reduce the burden of major health problems

- High value nutrition - developing high-value foods with validated health benefits

- New Zealand's biological heritage - protecting and managing our biodiversity, improving our biosecurity, and enhancing our resilience to harmful organisms

- Our land and water - research to enhance primary sector production and productivity while maintaining and improving our land and water quality for future generations

- Life in a changing ocean - understanding how we can exploit our marine resources within environmental and biological constraints

- The deep south - understanding the role of the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean in determining our climate and our future environment

- Science for technological innovation - enhancing the capacity of New Zealand to use physical and engineering sciences for economic growth

- Resilience to nature's challenges - research into enhancing our resilience to natural disasters

Minister of Science and Innovation Steven Joyce said there were "a lot of questions and a lot of answers science can provide".

"It's a very exciting day for New Zealand science," he said.

Mr Joyce said each of the projects would have goals for what their research should achieve and an independent review of each challenge would be carried out each year.

The 10 challenges announced today are expected to be investigated over the next decade.

- APNZ

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