New Regional Research Institutes announced

November 2016

The Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) will establish an international satellite data exchange to design, build, and launch New Zealand’s first fleet of cube satellites. Image courtesy of NASA.

Late last month, the New Zealand Research Institute of Viticulture and Oenology (NZRIVO) was selected to become New Zealand’s first new Regional Research Institute (RRI).

“The NZRIVO, which will be based in Marlborough, will undertake new research activity and collaborate with other domestic and international research institutions to support the growth and continuing success of New Zealand’s wine and viticulture industry,” says ­Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

Mr Joyce also announced a second Regional Research Institute on 15 November, the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST). CSST, which will be based in Alexandra, Central Otago, will undertake research to explore the use of space-based measurements and satellite imagery unique to New Zealand to meet the specific needs of our regional industries. It will also have research hubs in Dunedin, Canterbury, and Taranaki.

“It will establish an international satellite data exchange and collaborate with leading researchers and businesses, both here and abroad, to design, build, and launch New Zealand’s first fleet of cube satellites,” says Mr Joyce.

IRANZ would like to congratulate both the NZRIVO in Marlborough and the CSST in Alexandra on their selection as the first RRIs. “The Independent Research Organisation model has been adopted as a basis for the RRIs, which will be a great way of engaging businesses and local communities in strategic research. IRANZ will welcome the new RRIs as members,” says IRANZ Chair Dr John Bright.

Further funding rounds for RRIs are in progress, so IRANZ is eagerly anticipating more good news on further RRIs.

A third shortlisted proposal by Earth+Vantage, based in Southland, which proposed undertaking research using real time satellite and ground-based data to lift primary industry productivity was unsuccessful in its application but will have the option to put forward a proposal for the second round of funding. An additional sum of $2.3 million has also been set aside for technical collaboration between CSST and Earth+Vantage if this proves possible.

Regional Research Institutes were announced in Budget 2015. In Budget 2016, the Government set aside $40 million of additional funds to support the initiative, bringing the total funding in contingency to $65 million over four years.

Proposals are invited from groups of businesses, researchers and private investors who are seeking to collaborate to establish regional institutes that will deliver commercially focused and industry-relevant research to their region and New Zealand as a whole.

“During the initial funding round, a number of credible and exciting proposals were received from all across New Zealand on a wide range of research and development interests,” says Mr Joyce.

“Our regional economies have different resources and strengths. These institutes will focus on scientific research relevant to a particular region, with a strong emphasis on the effective transfer of research into new technologies, new firms, and new products and services.”

It is expected that two or three additional institutes will be established over the next four to five years in areas outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Proposals are due to MBIE by 27 January 2017. Shortlisted proposals will be invited to present to a panel of experts and, if selected, will develop business cases for consideration.

For more information about RRIs please see: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/regions-cities/regional-research-institutes.