The New Zealand Government announced this week that they will invest $410.5 million over four years in science and innovation through the Innovative New Zealand package. By 2020, the annual investment in science and innovation will have increased by 15 per cent to $1.6b billion per year. This is one of the largest single investments in science and innovation in New Zealand’s history.

Science plays a core role in creating opportunities and solving problems faced by society. These Budget initiatives assist in making a visible, measurable contribution to our productivity and wellbeing through excellent science. These commitments to investment support the priority areas, and fully support the National Statement of Science Investment core principles for investment.

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Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced that New Zealand has joined Australia’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).

“The MRCF is an early-stage venture capital fund, which provides capital and hands-on expertise to support the development and commercialisation of promising biomedical discoveries. New Zealand’s research organisations can now sign up to gain access to the $200 million (AUD) investment fund to support the development of their biomedical innovations,” Mr Joyce says.

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Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce recently launched the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, which aims to enhance primary sector production and productivity while maintaining and improving land and water quality.

The National Science Challenges are dedicated to breaking new ground in areas of science that are crucial to New Zealand’s future. The Our Land and Water Challenge is the ninth of 11 to be launched, and receives funding of up to $96.9 million over 10 years.

Hosted by AgResearch, it involves the six other CRI research partners – ESR, GNS Science, Landcare Research, NIWA, Plant and Food Research, and Scion – and five universities and affiliates – Auckland University, Lincoln Agritech, Lincoln University, Massey University and Waikato University.

Initial research will include projects on:

  • Identifying contaminant flow pathways and dilution processes in soil and water to help make better land management decisions and reduce environmental impact.
  • Developing “next generation” farming systems that deliver high profits with a low environmental footprint through new specialty products, new forage and new feed, or infrastructure systems.
  • Exploration of new technologies such as such as drones, precision agriculture, and animal and plant genetics, information systems and diverse products to make the best possible use of New Zealand’s diverse land resources.
  • A project to capture New Zealand’s innovation talent, drawing on the knowledge and experience of leading farmers, growers and foresters to design targeted solutions for primary production systems.
  • Designing effective collaborative processes and tools for achieving water quality limits.
  • Development of a national mātauranga-centred framework through case studies in Northland to aid development of Māori agribusiness and community wellbeing.

The National Science Challenges are designed to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand. For more information, visit the New Zealand Government’s National Science Challenges information section.

Australian koalas are being successfully cured of a life-threatening disease, chlamydia, and released back into the wild, thanks to the help of global animal health company, Ceva Santé Animale.

Between 30 and 50 per cent of the Australian koala population in the wild were suffering from chlamydia. There were fears that the sexually transmitted disease, which causes infertility, blindness and even death, could eventually wipe out the entire koala population.

Ceva donated supplies of the primary drug used to treat chlamydia in animals, to the world famous Australia Zoo in Brisbane to help combat the problem. Now other animal centres in Australia are using it to treat their own koalas that have contracted the disease.

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The Australian Government will invest more-than $1 billion to give all Australians with Hepatitis C access to breakthrough cures that could all but eradicate the deadly and debilitating disease within a generation.

The Turnbull Government will invest more-than $1 billion to give all Australians with Hepatitis C access to breakthrough cures that could all but eradicate the deadly and debilitating disease within a generation.

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Through the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian Government will invest $1.1 billion to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking, and promote science, maths and computing in schools by focusing on four priority areas:

  • Culture and capital, to help businesses embrace risk and incentivise early stage investment in startups
  • Collaboration, to increase the level of engagement between businesses, universities and the research sector to commercialise ideas and solve problems
  • Talent and skills, to train Australian students for the jobs of the future and attract the world’s most innovative talent to Australia; and
    Government as an exemplar, to lead by example in the way Government invests in and uses technology and data to deliver better quality services
  • The Agenda is part of the Government’s commitment to establishing Australia as a leading innovation system.

The package’s major initiatives are:

  • $106 million in tax incentives for “angel” investors, who provide seed funding in the early years of a venture’s creation
  • $75m to the CSIRO’s data research arm Data 61
  • $30m for a Cyber Security Growth Centre to create business opportunities in cyber security, which the Government spends $5b on each year
  • $15m over four years towards a $200m CSIRO Innovation Fund
  • $10m over four years towards a $250m Biomedical Translation Fund, in partnership with the private sector

More information on the NISA is available at www.innovation.gov.au

Uniseed now operating at four of the Group of 8 Universities and CSIRO
Early stage investment in all technology sectors

Uniseed, a venture fund operating at the Universities of Melbourne, New South Wales and Queensland, is pleased to announce that the University of Sydney and CSIRO will be joining to launch a new $50 million investment fund to help commercialise ground-breaking research in Australia.

The fund is Uniseed’s third and largest investment fund to date, and follows three high profile exits over the past 14 months.

Alongside existing partners in the Universities of Melbourne, New South Wales and Queensland, the addition of the University of Sydney and CSIRO as contributors to this new fund further validates the innovative approach and success to date which Uniseed has achieved in commercialising Australian research.

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High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge has today announced a $7million research investment funding projects that build the science required to develop innovative new foods, including those that will help babies sleep through the night and better protect children against allergies.

Funding is also being given to research that will provide the science for new protein-packed foods to help maintain mobility for the elderly and unravelling the health benefits of fat from grass-fed beef. Research into the benefits of a2 milk, New Zealand kiwifruit and greenshell mussels have also secured funding.

The seven successful projects, all science and business collaborations, will each receive $1million research investment over the next three years following a contestable funding round. They are –

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Australia’s first venture capitalist has been appointed Chair of Innovation Australia.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne congratulated Bill Ferris AC on his appointment to the independent body, which was established by the Government to enhance Australia’s innovation performance.

“Innovation is critical to economic development. Australia has strengths but also some challenges. That’s why the Government is developing an Innovation and Science Agenda to focus on this key driver of our economy,” Mr Pyne said.

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In a previous series of short articles, we profiled Australia and three of its main cities for life sciences innovation: Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney. Here we add another worthy Australian city to the list, Adelaide.

Australia - Adelaide

One of the perils of writing a ‘four-part series’ on Australia is that the country boasts a veritable multitude of biotech-relevant hot-spots that a four-part series cannot do full justice to. In leaving this year’s AusBiotech Conference, we decided the first addendum had to be Adelaide and the South Australia region.

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