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Six state-funded research partners for $20m R&D vouchers

Wednesday 20th October 2010

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Four universities, one polytechnic and a Crown Research Institute can line up for the $20 million in research and development funding available from the technology transfer voucher system, kicking off in November.

The policy was announced as a centerpiece of innovation policy in the May Budget. The University of Auckland, The University of Canterbury, Auckland University of Technology, The University of Otago, Industrial Research and the Wellington Institute of Technology were deemed best skilled and located "as an initial spectrum of providers," Science Minister Wayne Mapp said. 

The policy intends to foster small businesses with high value manufacturing research requirements, these being New Zealand's best opportunities to create globally competitive new export products outside the food sector. 

The policy concentrates on non-food manufacturing innovation, and offers dollar-for-dollar government funding for businesses without their own research and development capability. 

The scheme is administered by Technology NZ, an arm of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology -to be merged as part of the Ministry of Science of Innovation from next February. 

Mapp said the institutions were chosen for regional spread, to create an initial spectrum of providers, concentrating initially on high value, non-food manufacturing.  

The scheme has an initial phase, where co-funding investments of between $100,000 and $1 million are expected, though averaging around $200,000.

Mapp expects to be asking his Cabinet colleagues for a greater allocation within the first year given the substantial interest already shown in the voucher concept.

Part of the new Ministry's brief will be to evaluate the tech transfer voucher scheme, and the learning from that will inform the accreditation of a larger number of research organisations across more sectors, Mapp said, announcing the policy at Weltec.

Following 18 months of science-oriented reforms, in which a greater emphasis has been put on turning good ideas into globally scaleable products and services, Mapp said "we've created a threshold of expectations".

"People are expecting government to do more in the science and innovation area, and see 2010 as a platform for the future," he said.

"We've raised interest, and are quite conscious that has been achieved."

The web-based application for tech transfer vouchers starts on November 1.

Mapp said he expects requests for it available funding to be oversupplied.

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