We were pleased to see in the budget yesterday that the Government intends to establish funding ‘for a series of National Science Challenges to find innovative solutions to some of the most fundamental issues New Zealand faces in its future development.’

In our recent report Science Embraced we made a number of observations and recommendations for the New Zealand government-funded science system. Specifically, we highlighted the need for a high-level Government research agenda and the importance of domestic issues being the primary drivers behind our science system. We also highlighted the growing trend toward using competitions to achieve specific science outputs. The report recommended creating prizes for those who resolve problems that are specific to New Zealand. The Government’s announcement that they will invest an extra $60 million over four years for National Science Challenges will go a long toward realising this.

Science and Innovation funding will grow to more than $1.3billion a year by 2015/16 and this shows that the government recognises the importance of science and technological innovation as drivers of international competitiveness and a productive domestic economy. It is promising to see the government taking strong control of the science agenda and that some of our recommendations have been progressed.