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Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland will be the first to take advantage of the Government’s $35 million investment in ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’, part of the Innovative New Zealand initiative in Budget 2016, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Paul Goldsmith announced today.

“The Entrepreneurial Universities fund aims to attract world-leading entrepreneurial academics to New Zealand, setting up their laboratories and teams in our universities,” Mr Goldsmith says.

Approximately $4 million will be awarded annually over 4 years in the first funding round to one Victoria University of Wellington programme and two University of Auckland programmes.

“Victoria University of Wellington will establish a new institute in 2018 - the Computational Media Innovation Centre (CMIC) led by Professor Ken Anjyo - with the aim of building a globally competitive research and entrepreneurship programme in Wellington,” Mr Goldsmith says.

The CMIC will incubate potential start-ups and industry pipelines to strengthen New Zealand’s computing and media ecosystem, placing it at the forefront of an emerging global digital media market that includes Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR).

“The University of Auckland also has a programme ready to start in early 2018, which will be led by one of the world’s emerging leaders in creating enabling human-computer interfaces, Dr Suranga Nanayakkara,” Mr Goldsmith says.

Dr Nanayakkara will join the University of Auckland’s Auckland Bioengineering Institute to continue his innovative research in human-computer interaction.

“Dr Nanayakkara’s work includes the development of wearable and sensory devices that can enable the vision- or hearing-impaired to perceive and make sense of their environment. His work in developing and commercialising assistive and rehabilitative technologies will further strengthen and grow New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem,” Mr Goldsmith says.

The University of Auckland is finalising details of its second programme and this is expected to be completed shortly.

“New Zealand is already an attractive place to undertake research and our universities all have an international reputation for excellence, but it’s an extremely competitive environment and this fund allows our universities to compete on a global scale,” Mr Goldsmith says

“The benefits of the knowledge and networks world-leading academics will bring here are substantial, from undergraduates learning from the best, to New Zealand firms gaining partnership opportunities with leaders in their fields.”

Two other applications for funding from the first round are still under development, while a second funding round will be launched in November.

Over the next three years, the initiative is expected to bring 15-20 world-leading researchers and their teams to New Zealand. The Entrepreneurial Universities initiative is part of the Government’s initial Innovative New Zealand package in Budget 2016, worth a total of $761.4 million.

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