Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the signing of a ground breaking bilateral international science agreement between New Zealand and Australia at the Leaders’ meetings in Queenstown today.
The Australia – New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement is a commitment to valuable collaboration across the innovation and science systems, and between researchers and innovative companies, on both sides of the Tasman.
“International agreements bring new knowledge, ideas, people, technology and investment into New Zealand’s science and innovation system. These partnerships also contribute to the export of the unique research and innovation generated in New Zealand,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“Our collaboration with Australia in science and innovation is already extensive and constructive. This Agreement sets out a clear work programme that will provide a focus-point for our cooperation into the future.
“New Zealand’s role as foundation investors in the Australian Synchrotron is a prime example of that collaboration, and means we now have access to a facility which can assist in the development of everything from forensics, to surgical tools, to understanding environmental issues.”
Synchrotron users vary from universities and Crown Research Institutes, through to the private sector and high-tech start-ups.
“With this new agreement, we can further enhance our scientific links for the benefit of both Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Goldsmith says.
Key initial proposals in the work programme include mapping collaborative research opportunities, research infrastructure planning and investment, standards and measurement research and the exchange of experts, knowledge and expertise.
The Agreement also provides for a wide array of future initiatives such as common science priorities, working together in other international endeavours and the promotion of a trans-Tasman innovation ecosystem for talent and investment attraction.
More information on the Agreement and associated new initiatives can be found on the MBIE website, HERE.
Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has today announced $2 million of funding for 41 projects from the 2017 Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund.
“The Unlocking Curious Minds fund particularly focuses on projects that engage young New Zealanders who have fewer opportunities to be involved with science and technology.
“It’s about giving young Kiwis more choices. Taking part in science and technology keeps more career options open to young people,” says Mr Goldsmith.
Funded projects will be led by a wide variety of organisations including primary schools, tertiary education organisations, Crown Research Institutes, museums, trusts, and companies.
Successful projects include topics such as:
- Introducing the concept of how organisms react to stimuli through a National Biomechanics Day across New Zealand. Engaging 1,100 students from lower-decile schools, the day will involve a series of live (and live-video streaming of) demonstrations of biomechanics technology involving students and athletes.
- Demonstrating the value of DNA through engaging Maori, Pasifika and new New Zealanders aged 12-18 by video-recording the migration stories of the students, and using the results of DNA sampling of teachers to demonstrate our shared genetic heritage.
- Raising interest in mathematics through a Maths Crafts Festival in several urban and regional centres that will introduce people to mathematical concepts by demonstrating the way these concepts are integrated into craft activities.
- Creating nature rich environments and inspiring rangitahi aged 8-15 years from Wainuiomata by allowing them to participate in the release of titipounamu (rifleman) at Zealandia, make real time scientific observations of the birds, and provide an introduction into the scientific concepts involved in bird translocation.
- The application of technology through introducing students in the Buller, Grey and Hurunui districts to seaborne remotely operated vehicles and the programming, sensor applications, camera wiring and electronics that are involved.
- Exploring New Zealand’s geology and connecting to technology through a programme targeted at students aged 4-16 from lower-decile schools in Dunedin with experts to identify and understand geological hazards, learn about the role of sensors in monitoring, and build, install and connect their own sensors to existing ‘internet of things’ networks.
The Fund was developed under the A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri I te Mahara – a National Strategic Plan for Science in Society. Curious Minds is a cross-agency programme of work led by MBIE, the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.
The Fund offered two types of grants in the 2017 round: up to $30,000 for local or community projects, and up to $150,000 for regional or national projects.
More information about the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund and other projects supported under Curious Minds HERE.
Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has today welcomed the launch of the Waikato IT cluster, as another example of how regional and industry-led initiatives can drive economic opportunities.
The CultivateIT cluster, which already boasts around 50 members, is being officially launched at Waikato Innovation Park as part of the Waikato Tech Showcase this week.
“The CultivateIT cluster strengthens Waikato’s reputation as a strong destination for digital technology,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“It aims to nurture technology sector talent, maximise business opportunities and advance the region’s economy as a result, which is a key part of the Government’s comprehensive Business Growth Agenda.”
The cluster will provide a bigger voice for digital businesses in the region, allowing the member companies access to collaboration opportunities, make it easier to attract talent, and offer greater commercialisation opportunities in the growing digital economy.
The Waikato region has the highest rate of IT graduates in the country, and is already home to a number of leading digital technology businesses such as Endace, LIC, Gallagher, as well as the Stratus cybersecurity research project.
The cluster was originally proposed by Hamilton East MP Hon David Bennett, who was at today’s launch, and then brought to fruition by the local tech industry.
“I want to congratulate the Waikato Innovation Park and the businesses that have supported it, for getting this initiative up and running in only six months from inception to launch,” Mr Goldsmith says.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced the recipients of more than $5.7 million of funding to improve the management of long-term health conditions.
The contestable funding was awarded to three successful projects, all relating to the prevention and management of diabetes.
“Diabetes affects around six per cent of New Zealanders and their families,” says Dr Coleman.
“The Government understands the toll the disease takes on people’s lives. The management of this long-term condition is a major health challenge for the country.”
“Through this union of science and healthcare we hope to make inroads into reducing the toll of these diseases on people’s lives and in reducing the burden socially and economically,” says Mr Goldsmith.
Successful recipients are the University of Otago (Wellington) for two projects – a study into preventing type 2 diabetes by including probiotics and prebiotics in the diet, and a digital health initiative aimed at helping people prevent and manage diabetes using online tools.
Funding is also being allocated to the National Hauora Coalition to support a targeted programme aimed at improving outcomes for Māori living with diabetes.
The research fund, announced last year, is a joint partnership initiative between the Health Research Council of New Zealand, Ministry of Health, and the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge.
The Government's ongoing commitment to health research is demonstrated in the Budget 2016 announcement of an extra $97 million over the next four years for the Health Research Council.
Further details on the research fund is available on the Health Research Council of New Zealand website www.hrc.govt.nz.
Summary of the successful projects
Preventing type 2 diabetes with probiotics and prebiotics (PDP2)
Associate Professor Jeremy Krebs
University of Otago, Wellington
$1,800,000 Duration: 36 months
A quarter of New Zealanders have pre-diabetes, which is a condition that can progress to type 2 diabetes and cause significant long-term health problems. There is now research demonstrating that the microbes in our gut affect our health in many ways, including how our bodies process foods and sugars. We can modify our gut microbes by taking probiotic supplements (which contain live bacteria that give health benefits) and prebiotics (substances from foods which support gut microbes).
This study is a blinded randomised placebo-controlled trial to see if taking a probiotic supplement with either a standard cereal or a cereal enriched with a specific prebiotic called beta glucan for six months can improve glucose and fat levels in the blood of adults with pre-diabetes. In addition, this work will evaluate the cost effectiveness of the interventions and how to translate the study findings into clinical practice.
Innovative management of diabetes with a comprehensive digital health programme
Professor Diana Sarfati
University of Otago, Wellington
$1,600,000 Duration: 36 months
Six per cent of New Zealand adults have diabetes mellitus and one in four have pre-diabetes. Rates of both are rapidly increasing, and are higher among Māori and Pacific people. We have developed an innovative digital health programme which supports prevention and self-management of pre-diabetes and diabetes. The programme is delivered via web and mobile-based platforms. It integrates with primary care providers and uses peer support, health coaches, health tracking, and tools with engaging content to drive changes in behaviour. Initial pilot results showed that more than 70 per cent of pre-diabetics had normal blood glucose levels after four months on the programme.
We propose a group of studies, including a randomised controlled trial, to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of this intervention in reversing pre-diabetes and improving self-management of diabetes, compared with usual care. We will explicitly assess the impact among Māori and Pacific people, and focus on translating findings into clinical practice.
Mana Tū: a whānau ora approach to long-term conditions
Dr Matire Harwood
National Hauora Coalition
$2,300,000 Duration: 36 months
Diabetes is a long-term condition in which there are significant ethnic and social disparities in prevalence and outcomes. There is huge scope to reduce diabetes inequalities. The complex nature of the condition means a comprehensive and sustained approach that tackles the wider determinants for causes, management and complications is required.
We propose to test Mana Tū – a programme co-designed with whānau, clinicians, health service planners and whānau ora providers to improve the impact of clinical and lifestyle interventions for whānau living with pre-diabetes and people with poorly controlled diabetes. Mana Tū deploys skilled and supported Kaimanaaki-whānau (KMs) in practices. The KMs use a mana whānau approach and work with general practice teams while being operationally supported by a central hub. The hub will co-ordinate broader community and social service support systems for whānau and provide training, programme design, and support within a rich data environment.
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister, Paul Goldsmith, has today introduced the Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to Parliament.
The Bill is designed to update legislation that affects the everyday running of tertiary education organisations.
“This Bill will allow for more flexibility in the tertiary funding framework, and improve accountability in return,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“The government has already improved the monitoring of tertiary organisations in response to recent investigations, and the proposals in this Bill will allow for better information collection and oversight of providers.”
A number of changes are also being made to expand student protection arrangements in response to issues raised in the past year.
“We need to ensure that the right settings are in place to support domestic and international student’s safety and wellbeing and ensure they receive a consistently high-quality education in New Zealand.”
The Bill makes a number of largely technical proposals which:
- increase the flexibility of funding
- further strengthen monitoring and compliance
- ensure consistent treatment of tertiary education providers
- broaden student protection arrangements.
The Bill is also an opportunity to look at some minor matters that need updating in the Education Act.
“Both public and private education providers that achieve good education outcomes for New Zealanders should receive comparable funding. Introducing a requirement that providers are funded consistently I hope will encourage innovation and better performance in the tertiary sector.
The Government consulted on an exposure draft of the Bill in September and October 2016, and a number of improvements have been made to the Bill as a result of the submissions received.
“I look forward to the Bill’s first reading, and working with my parliamentary colleagues to ensure the successful passage of the Bill,” says Mr Goldsmith.
A copy of the Bill can be found HERE.
Background information and regulatory impact statements can be found HERE.
Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has today announced the reappointment of Claire Robinson, Brett Hewlett, and Suse Reynolds to the Callaghan Innovation Stakeholder Advisory Group.
“The reappointment of Ms Robinson, Mr Hewlett, and Ms Reynolds recognises the valuable skills and insights they all contribute to the advisory group, as well as their work to ensure that Callaghan is connected and engaged with its stakeholders,” says Mr Goldsmith.
Callaghan Innovation is the government agency tasked with growing New Zealand’s economy by helping business succeed through technology.
The seven-member Stakeholder Advisory Group provides independent, expert advice to the Callaghan Innovation Board. It includes some of the most well-respected people involved in New Zealand innovation.
Professor Robinson, Mr Hewlett and Ms Reynolds have been reappointed for further two-year terms.
Ms Reynolds, founder and Board member of Angel HQ, has also been appointed as the chair of the Advisory Group.
“Suse’s extensive networks and in-depth experience with New Zealand’s angel investment community stand her in strong stead to lead the Advisory Group, and I welcome her appointment as Chair,” Mr Goldsmith says.
More information about the Advisory Group can be found on Callaghan Innovation’s website.
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the record number of New Zealanders now in employment, which has reached 2.5 million for the first time.
The latest Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) shows a 0.8 per cent increase in employment over the past three months, equating to 19,000 additional people now in employment.
137,000 jobs have been created in the past 12 months, while the labour force participation rate has increased 0.4 per cent, to an all-time high of 70.5 per cent. The unemployment rate, meantime has increased to 5.2 per cent.
Wages also grew by 1.6 per cent over the year, taking the average annual wage to $58,700.
“The Government’s comprehensive economic plan is working for families, with record job creation and higher wages to help people get ahead,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“Unprecedented levels of participation and robust job growth show that the New Zealand economy is continuing to grow.”
In the construction, retail, trade and accommodation sectors, there was strong growth with 10,900, and 30,300 more people employed in the past year, respectively.
Other highlights this quarter include:
- The number of women in full-time employment rose 2.7 per cent.
- The number of people not in the labour force reduced by 12,000.
- With working-age population growth of 0.5 per cent, it is the fifth consecutive quarter where employment growth has exceeded population growth.
The rate of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), has increased to 13.6 per cent, although Statistics New Zealand urges caution as this may reflect the recent redevelopment of the HLFS survey.
“The Government is continuing to focus on delivering more jobs, higher wages, and more opportunities for Kiwis and their families,” Mr Goldsmith says.
Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith and Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell have today opened a fifth round of the Te Pūnaha Hihiko - Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund in which up to $4 million is available for successful projects.
“We are seeking proposals that strengthen connections between Māori and the science and innovation system. This fund will continue to foster a greater understanding of how science and technology can contribute to the aspirations of Māori organisations, for the benefit of New Zealand,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“The government is investing in projects that contribute to the development of skilled people and organisations undertaking research that support the four themes of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Vision Mātauranga policy.”
The Vision Mātauranga policy aims to unlock the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people. It focuses on four themes:
- indigenous innovation – contributing to economic growth through distinctive science and innovation
- taiao/environment – achieving environmental sustainability through iwi and hapū relationships with land and sea
- hauora/health – improving health and social wellbeing
- mātauranga – exploring indigenous knowledge and science and innovation.
“We know that Māori success is New Zealand’s success and we have already seen innovative results that have wide reaching benefits from the programmes funded to date. Unlocking the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people will have major economic, social and environmental benefits for New Zealand.” Mr Flavell says.
A total of $3.97 million was invested in 33 new programmes through the fund in 2016, a substantial investment that recognises the value of Māori participation in science and innovation.
“The Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund is an important initiative in building deep-seated engagement on science and innovation with Māori that can include traditional research organisations, CRIs, government agencies, communities and individuals. I look forward to hearing about the successful projects in due course,” says Mr Goldsmith.
Applications are due to MBIE by 5 April 2017. Successful applicants will be announced in May 2017.
For more information, including the Call for Proposals, see: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/science-innovation/investment-funding/current-funding/2017-vmcf-investment-round/
Education Minister Hekia Parata and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith have congratulated the 17 New Zealanders who have received New Year Honours for services to education.
“There are passionate and committed people working hard every day to help ensure that young New Zealanders get a world-class education and it’s great to see some of the very best being honoured,” says Ms Parata.
Those named include Georgina Kingi, QSO, who received the highest honour – Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
She has been principal of St Joseph’s Māori Girls College since 1987, having taught at the school since 1969. She has also been a member of the Education Expert Panel for the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.
“Dame Georgina has worked tirelessly in education for over 40 years and has played a pivotal role in the education of generations of young Māori women. This honour is truly deserved,” says Ms Parata.
Mr Goldsmith says the 17 honours are a reflection of the extremely high value New Zealand places on education.
“These 17 New Zealanders are fine examples of the dedicated people working in education to make a real and positive difference for young people.
“I congratulate them for the valuable contribution they’ve made to education in New Zealand and internationally,” says Mr Goldsmith.
The 17 recipients are:
- Miss Georgina Kingi, QSO, for services to Maori and education
- Mrs Beverly Rae Duff, for services to women and education
- Mr John Ioane Fiso, for services to sport, education and the Pacific community
- Professor Robert Hans George Jahnke, for services to Maori art and education
- Dr David Ross Mitchell, for services to education
- Ms Jacqueline Lindsay (Jacquie) Bay, for services to science and education
- Mr Ross Brown, for services to education
- Ms Jillian Corkin, for services to education
- Mr Derek Sinclair Firth, for services to arbitration and education
- Mrs Madeline Gunn, for services to education
- Mr John Heyes, for services to education
- Mrs Robyn Hickman, for services to education
- Mrs Nahusita Selupe, for services to education and Māori and Pacific communities
- Mrs Alison Thelma Wilkie, for services to health and education
- Mr Graham Leslie, for services to education
- Ms Barbara Stewart, for services to youth and education
- Mrs Herita Rita (Rita) Toko, for services to Maori and education
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced initial funding of up to $3 million to develop and enhance GeoNet’s natural hazards monitoring capability and response service.
The funding will support GeoNet - New Zealand’s official geological hazard information service - to further develop New Zealand’s hazards monitoring tools.
While GeoNet’s current monitoring and response service includes a network of automated sensors and on-call seismologists to assess data, a number of opportunities to strengthen the current response system were identified in the wake of the November 14 earthquakes.
Strengthening New Zealand’s monitoring capability could include improvements to existing infrastructure as well as research into improved sensors, models and approaches.
“It’s important we have the ability to get warnings about potential emergencies out to New Zealanders as quickly as possible, to enable them to take appropriate action,” Mr Brownlee says.
“GeoNet plays a key role advising on the need for warnings about natural emergencies such as tsunami, and a well-funded GeoNet service has long been a priority for the government.
“Work is already underway, led by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, on scoping a 24/7 warning centre that would involve multiple agencies monitoring a range of hazards.
“This work will continue but, in the meantime, enhancing GeoNet’s capacity to provide a timely response is an important priority.”
Mr Goldsmith says GeoNet issued a response within 3 minutes of the Kaikoura earthquake.
“It immediately stood up a response team that delivered advice not only to officials but to the New Zealand public through its website, app and social media channels.
“Early, accurate information is important for public safety and emergency response, so the government is investing to strengthen GeoNet’s ability to provide immediate and comprehensive information on earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.”
Initial funding has been appropriated from MBIE’s Strategic Science Investment Fund.
Both Ministers say while the government is committed to improving our capability to deliver better warnings, New Zealanders need to remember that for events such as earthquake-generated tsunami, there may be no time to issue warnings.
People near the coast should familiarise themselves with maps provided by local councils showing areas at risk of tsunami. They should also heed natural warnings - if you feel a long or strong quake, head immediately inland or to higher ground.