Scientists who took time out from their work benches to tune into the Budget speech today would have been heartened around two-thirds of the way through.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said Budget 2023 includes significant investments in research and development to deliver on the Future Pathways reforms of the public research system.
This is consistent with our commitment to increase research and development expenditure to 2 percent of GDP.
The centrepiece of this investment is the establishment of three new multi-institution research hubs focused on health and wellbeing; oceans, climate and hazards; and advanced manufacturing, biotech and energy.
This $451 million investment is intended to drive innovation, collaboration, and export-earning potential.
It is an exciting development bringing public and private sector together to solve significant problems and foster growth of our science sector.
Backing this up is investment in research fellowships and an applied doctoral training scheme for more than 260 people, to fill skills gaps and grow a sustainable research system.
Mr Robertson said Budget 2023 continues the Government’s investment in industries that will drive New Zealand towards a high-wage, low-emissions economy.
It will invest a further $74.7 million in our Industry Transformation Plans. This includes $30 million for the horticulture technology sector, which will develop more productive ways of operating, including for those affected by the cyclone.
A press statement from Research, Science and Innovation Minister Ayesha Verrall put some flesh on those bones.
Her statement highlighted these points:
Three new multi-institution hubs increase collaboration in research and science
- Major investment in science and scientists
- Fellowships and funding to develop more than 260 future science leaders
Dr Verrall reiterated Mr Robertson’s statement that Budget 2023 positions the New Zealand economy for a low-emissions, high-wage future with a major investment into our science, digital and horticultural technology sectors.
“The creation of three multi-institution research hubs will bring scientists closer together to increase collaboration, ensure better use of expensive equipment and facilities, positioning New Zealand to meet complex challenges and seize economic opportunities,” Ayesha Verrall said.
Each hub will be focused on a distinctive area of research:
- Climate change and disaster resilience: bringing together expertise from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS) the Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University and others to look at issues like climate change and disaster resilience as part of a national centre for research on oceans, climate and hazards.
- Health and pandemic readiness: a health and wellbeing corridor, including a new pandemic centre to ensure New Zealand is prepared for future emergencies, will share expertise and resources between Victoria University of Wellington, University of Otago, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), the Malaghan Institute and Callaghan Innovation.
- Technology and innovation: we will develop a research, technology and innovation park in Gracefield that brings experts from Callaghan Innovation, Victoria University of Wellington, GNS and the Malaghan Institute together with a focus on advanced manufacturing and materials, energy futures and biotechnology.
“Through all of this, we will link talented university students to industry and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and increase opportunities for industry training and applied PhDs for exciting careers in science and research,” Ayesha Verrall said.
“While these hubs are based in the Wellington region, they will benefit New Zealand as a whole.
“These hubs will place greater emphasis on innovation and create an environment that helps start-ups to grow and become significant contributors to the New Zealand economy through stronger coordination of innovation and commercialisation activities.
“This will include a significant investment in physical space and facilities to help entrepreneurs bring innovative new products to market.
“The ability to capitalise on our excellent science and research by building stronger connections between industry, iwi and academia is essential in the transition to a high-wage, low-emissions economy. This cohesive and innovation-driven science will be a model for the rest of New Zealand to follow,” Ayesha Verrall said.
The next step is to finalise the programme business case so that construction can begin.
Dr Verrall statement went on to say:
Supporting new talent
Budget 2023 supports new talent through a $55.2 million investment in research fellowships and to train more PhD students.
“The fellowships will help retain and develop more than 260 future leaders of research, science and innovation in New Zealand over the next 10 years. These expanded fellowships will also include dedicated awards for Māori and Pacific Peoples to increase representation at all levels.
“The additional funding for PhD students aims to provide more certainty for researchers by increasing support for new talent, addressing key domestic skills gaps and improving career mobility. It will also improve the impact of the research we invest in,” Ayesha Verrall said.
Kiwi science on the world stage
New Zealand’s research will be showcased to the world as Kiwi scientists work alongside world-leading researchers to solve global challenges under the multibillion-dollar Horizon Europe research programme.
“We will be one of the first non-European countries to offer our researchers access to the European Union’s largest-ever research and innovation programme on equal terms with European scientists,” Ayesha Verrall said.
“I am confident our scientists will be sought-after research partners and that’s why this Government is investing $37.6 million over four years in New Zealand’s association to Horizon Europe through Budget 2023.
“This is new funding for New Zealand science and underlines our commitment to building a modern, future-focused research, science and innovation system.
“Association will help to grow our global connectivity, which is a key objective of Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways, the transformation programme for research, science and innovation. It will showcase the quality of our research and researchers internationally and provide access to knowledge that will help to solve our own national challenges.
“Our science community will build individual and institutional connections that will drive collaborations beyond the Horizon Europe programme. And as a member of the Horizon Europe community, New Zealand will have the opportunity to influence the global science investment agenda,” Ayesha Verrall said.
Sources: Budget Speech and Minister of Research, Science and Innovation