Yesterday the New Zealand Government announced a new Ministry of Science and Innovation.
The existing Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology will be merged to form the new Ministry of Science and Innovation. The roles of the new Ministry include:*
- Advising the Minister of Research, Science and Technology on New Zealand’s science and innovation system
- Managing science funding
- Driving knowledge transfer to businesses and other research users
- A new function advising shareholding Ministers on the performance of Crown Research Institutes
The legislation to establish this new ministry is anticipated to be passed by the end of 2010; opportunities to comment on this legislation (and presumably the criteria that they make funding decisions) will apparently be available via a Select Committee process.
Details are yet to come.
NZBio, who represent bioscience-based industries in New Zealand, has released a statement in response to this initiative, which should appear on their news website soon.
Their comments include:
’When compared with a similar sized economy like the State of Victoria in Australia which has 11 Government ministries, New Zealand has 35. Consolidation of government departments is important as it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to transferring more resources to the tradable sector which ultimately means more investment to our scientists, institutions and companies who are contributing to our economy by creating highly valued and future focused employment opportunities.’
and that this may aid a shift in focus from grants to applications of the work:
’It’s another positive step as part of the Government’s reforms to the science sector, further strengthening science funding, to ensure a more strategic and simplified funding programme is in place. This allows New Zealand’s brilliant scientists and researchers to focus on new innovative developments that will drive economic growth rather than focusing on funding applications.’
They also suggest that the merger
’… will help drive the knowledge transfer to businesses and other research users, boosting New Zealand’s productivity.’
With few details available thus far and not having experience within the funding agencies, I can’t feel I can comment (yet), but your thoughts are most welcome.
* ‘include’ is their description, not mine.
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