Data and the future of food as we know it are the focus of a major collaboration with Singaporean scientists that's been given a near-$60m boost by the Government.

This month's Budget included a $57m spend on a new "enhanced partnership" with the island city-state over the next four years.

The investment would mean negotiations between the two countries could be wrapped up, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) international science partnerships manager Simon Rae said.

New Zealand and Singapore had worked together on science, technology and innovation for more than four decades.


"The data science and future foods initiatives have been chosen for early implementation because they build on existing research collaborations while focusing on transformational technologies that will drive future growth," he said.

"We are having ongoing discussions with the Singaporean government on the design of these initiatives, including identifying the implementing research institutions and lead scientists in both countries."

Rae said linking up with other countries was key to building the capability of New Zealand's science system.

Singapore was a regional hub, a gateway to fast-growing Asian markets and was investing $4b per year through its research institutions.

"The partnership provides an opportunity to leverage Singapore's strengths in data and nutrition science, and in advanced bio-processing, as a means to grow New Zealand's own capabilities in these fields and diversify our economy."

The proposed "future foods" programme would be directed toward developing food products from novel sources to meet future demand for nutritious, environmentally sustainable and affordable diets.

"The agreement has the potential to give direct access to a new market for New Zealand food producers, and increasing the capacity New Zealand's food industry to address multiple 'future foods' challenges, such as consumer preferences for texture and taste, nutritional value and sustainability."

The data science work will be funded as a Strategic Science Investment Fund platform, while future foods projects would be supported through the Catalyst Fund.


Elsewhere in Budget 2018, the Government has set aside about $1b over the next four years for tax rebates from the research and development tax credit, which Innovation Minister Megan Woods hoped will spur on the level private sector R&D investment.

The pre-announced tax credit allowed businesses to claim 12.5c in the dollar back for every dollar they spend on R&D, provided that the bill was more than $100,000 a year.