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It’s early days, but we (the royal we as in NZ Inc) shouldn’t underestimate the importance and value of the Crown Research Institutes’ statements of core purpose (SCP).

(Admission, Wednesday’s story said the CRIs had nominated themselves as leads in certain science areas …. well, it wasn’t just themselves deciding this).

Since the CRIs were formed nearly 20 years ago, it’s been assumed what their science areas were/are. There’s been nothing explicit.

But as Anthony Scott, chief executive of the CRIs representative body Science New Zealand says, that assumption’s been put to the test over the years.

‘Science as well as each end user sector is so dynamic. That’s created change. And there’s always been pressure to go where the money is,’ he says. ‘We’ve had the CRIs nibbling away at the edges, or even bursting through the banks of what areas they started out in.’

Scott’s in total agreement with the CRIs new clarity of purpose; pointing out that the statements came from the respective ministers Mapp and English (Crown representatives as their ‘owners’), not the CRIs themselves.

He also points out that the SCP came from deep discussions across the CRIs, stakeholders, government agency and policy people as well as clients of the science.

A clarity of purpose means the CRIs can now collaborate much more easily with each other, knowing that others aren’t going to cannibalise the science (also read this as funding).

The clarity will also allow improved collaboration with university research, as well as the polytechnic and research association science that goes on in New Zealand.

‘We’re developing a system of national research capability for the entire nation,’ Scott says. ‘Just as importantly, it shows the private sector and government agencies where the science resources are and where the possibilities lie.’

Heck, sounds like we might be starting to get all the science geese flying in formation.