Budget 2015: What's in it for science?

By Peter Griffin 21/05/2015

Budget 2015 is done and dusted and it appears there are few surprises for the science sector, other than an interesting move to replicate the success of the independent, Nelson-based Cawthron Institute.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 3.29.12 pm$25 million in funding has been allocated over three years to establish “between one and three” new Regional Research Institutes outside of the main centres of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Regional economic development seems to be front of mind with this move, which will see private organisations chip in to develop the institutes.

There’s no indication of what types of institutes they will be – presumably a contestable funding round will be launched, much like the recent CoRE selection rounds.

Hmm, maybe the Hawkes Bay and viticulture, Dunedin for high-tech as the country’s Gigatown? Who knows?

The institutes will leverage off the “unique business, technology, and economic growth opportunities in a region”.

With an increased number of Centres of Research Excellence recently funded by the Government, here then is an additional opportunity for a focus on specific areas of research.

Other science-related Budget highlights

– An $80 million operating boost over four years to R&D growth grants administered by Callaghan Innovation – announced in April, this will support innovative Kiwi businesses carrying out research and development by contributing 20 per cent of their R&D programme costs.
– The science and innovation system performance report and data collection programme – the first in a series of annual reports on the performance of New Zealand’s science and innovation system which will be published later this year. Funding of around $3 million over four years will be met by reprioritisation within the science and innovation portfolio.
– An international investment attraction programme – a new $1 million programme to attract multinational companies to undertake R&D in New Zealand will start in 2015/16, funded by reprioritisation within the science and innovation portfolio.
Science in Society – lifting New Zealanders’ engagement with science and technology is the key focus of the national strategic plan for Science in Society: A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri I Te Mahara.

– An additional $2.2 million in 2015/16 will support the plan’s implementation, funded by reprioritisation within the science and innovation portfolio.

“The additional funding announced in Budget 2015 will bring the Government’s total investment in science to more than $1.5 billion in 2015/16,” Mr Joyce says.