RSI quarterly update

Science and innovation are critical to helping to grow New Zealand for all, and increase the well-being of all New Zealanders. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) supports the sector in a number of important ways.

We invest in the capability of our researchers to discover new and better ways of doing things, encourage the development of new industries through research and development, and create the systems need to help research and science flourish.

This update provides a small snapshot of the work that MBIE has been supporting over the last quarter.

In addition to the regular news updates, you can subscribe to specific updates on our funds, partnership work, and others.

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In this update:

Key dates for science, research and innovation funds

  • Endeavour Fund 2020
    • Smart Ideas Concepts closed on 27 November.
    • Research Programmes Registrations closed on 11 December. Full proposals due 12 noon 4 March 2020.
    • Full proposals due 12 noon 4 March 2020.

Creating systems to help research and science flourish

Draft Research, Science and Innovation Strategy

MBIE has been consulting on the draft Research, Science and Innovation (RSI) Strategy, which was released on 26 September.

There is strong interest in the Strategy from within the RSI sector and beyond, and over the six week public consultation period we have received over 100 written submissions from a diverse range of people and groups.

To promote engagement with the document and to build relationships with stakeholders, we have travelled the country holding public presentation and discussion sessions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Rotorua, Hamilton  and New Plymouth.

The consultation period closed on 10 November, and we are now in the process of analysing the submissions received, which will inform the development of the final Strategy.

Impact of Research Position Paper

It is important that public investment delivers good value for money. For research, this means demonstrating how the research will ‘impact’ the things we care about and make our lives better.

The Impact of Research Position Paper(external link) presents a measurement framework based on the ‘results-chain’ through which research activities lead to impact. Research organisations are encouraged to use this framework in planning and describing their research, as well as describing its impact. 

Feedback from the research community has been positive. We now want to think about how impact is currently considered so we can support better future practice.

Developing new industries

Research & Development Tax Incentive – MBIE Science Policy

The R&D Tax Incentive is New Zealand’s flagship scheme to support businesses to perform more research and development within New Zealand. MBIE has been working alongside Inland Revenue and Callaghan Innovation to design and implement the scheme, leading the policy development.

The Tax Incentive applies from the 2019/20 income year and businesses are able to enrol online now through Inland Revenue’s website(external link).

The incentive provides a tax credit at a rate of 15 per cent of eligible R&D spend up to $120 million.

It is a key part of the Government’s strategy to help raise New Zealand’s total R&D spending to 2% of GDP by 2027.

Further work is being done to improve the Incentive, and proposals to broaden access to refundable R&D tax credits are currently before Parliament.

Airspace Integration Trails – Innovative Partnerships

Uptake of advanced unmanned aircraft – capable of carrying people or cargo, or performing complex tasks – could deliver significant economic benefits. However, to unlock these benefits, a number of technical challenges still need to be overcome, requiring industry investment in R&D.

Our recently launched Airspace Integration Trials programme enables Government to work with leading domestic and international industry partners to conduct advanced R&D, trial and market validate advanced unmanned aircraft in New Zealand for a range of purposes.

We are working closely with Wisk New Zealand (formerly Zephyr Airworks), the first industry partner in the programme, to scope a trial focused on passenger transport. Wisk has been testing and developing Cora, its self-flying, electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft, in New Zealand since 2017.

More information on the Airspace Integration Trials

Growing capability

Ensuring the health and well-being of puna and awa – Kaitiaki Flows – Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund

Ngāti Rangiwewehi has long-recognised the importance of ensuring the health and well-being of their puna (springs) and awa (rivers, including Te Awahou). 

This importance was recognised in the ‘Kaitiaki Flows’ Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund project, a Ngāti Rangiwewehi - GNS Science partnership. The project developed a novel water flow framework, combining mātauranga Māori and western science to recognise the intrinsic value of these waters.  The approach is part of a Joint Resource Consent application, which governs part-utilisation of Taniwha Spring flow for Ngongotaha’s domestic water supply.

The partners are currently assisting local iwi to develop their water resource management plans.

Project leader Gina Mohi won a ‘2019 Women of Influence’ award for her work on the project.

Climate friendly, high-value crops for the whānau of Omaio

As part of the Deep South National Science Challenge(external link), the small coastal town of Omaio is placing mātauranga Māori and climate science at the centre of their food and water management. 

A partnership between Te Rau Aroha Trust and NIWA, this project supports Omaio landowners and whānau to decide which crop to invest in, in the face of a changing climate that effects water resources.

This research partnership brings together climate and hydrological scientists with community researchers and mātauranga Māori practitioners, to develop community goals and to provide the foundational science needed to meet those goals.

The comprehensive data gathered, coupled with other climate and scenario modelling means the whānau can work with crop specialists to assess the strengths and vulnerabilities of one crop over another.

More information on this project can be found on the Deep South National Science Challenge website(external link) and in an article by The Spinoff(external link).

Supporting research excellence 

Endeavour Fund

In September it was announced another $241 million investment in 71 projects from the Endeavour Fund, into leading research projects that will help find new ways to address long-term issues like increasing our sources of renewable energy, growing knowledge-intensive industries, and tackling New Zealand’s social issues.

Projects to receive funding included GNS Science led ‘Geothermal: The next generation’ will look for new ways to extract geothermal energy at greater depths, and Plant & Food Research-led ‘Re-imagining aquaculture’, which will develop low-impact offshore technologies to transform finfish production in New Zealand.

More information on the Endeavour Fund.

Marsden Fund

In November, it was announced that 125 new projects would be funded through the Marsden Fund, representing a diverse range of disciplines and topics, from health and wellbeing, to diversity and climate change.

$83.7 million was invested in research projects that seek to understand and address critical issues facing New Zealand.

More information on the Marsden Fund can be found on the Royal Society website(external link).