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Smart Kiwi in­no­va­tors

Next Mon­day, re­search con­tracts to the tune of $133m will take ef­fect, boost­ing the re­search and de­vel­op­ment fund­ing of smart kiwi com­pa­nies. The first tranche of the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment’s 2012 sci­ence in­vest­ment round sup­ports 47 re­search projects in the bi­o­log­i­cal in­dus­tries; en­ergy and min­er­als; the en­vi­ron­ment; haz­ards and in­fra­struc­ture; and health and so­ci­ety fund­ing cat­e­gories.

“Sci­ence is both a driver of eco­nomic growth and a strong plat­form for ev­i­dence-based de­ci­sion mak­ing across so­ci­ety. These projects have been se­lected on the ba­sis of their high-qual­ity sci­ence and the dif­fer­ence they can make,” says sci­ence and in­no­va­tion min­is­ter Hon Steven Joyce.

To see the full list of suc­cess­ful re­search grants go to:

OP­TI­MUM N, LIN­COLN VEN­TURES [ 2] The pro­posal: This pro­gramme will pro­vide farm­ers with an au­to­mated process, termed ‘Op­ti­mum-N’, that will es­ti­mate the amount of ni­troge­nous fer­tiliser re­quired in pas­tures, and ap­ply the ap­pro­pri­ate amount vari­ably across the pas­ture. The pro­gram will sup­port more re­spon­si­ble ap­pli­ca­tions of ni­troge­nous fer­tilis­ers to NZ’s pas­toral farms – re­duc­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age while main­tain­ing or im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity.


The pro­posal: Most New Zealan­ders live in cities. Re­silient Ur­ban Fu­tures ex­plores which, of sev­eral pos­si­ble ur­ban fu­tures in the new green econ­omy, will be most re­silient, live­able and com­pet­i­tive. The aim of the re­search is to com­pare the broad costs and ben­e­fits and qual­i­ta­tive fea­tures of two pos­si­ble ur­ban de­vel­op­ment paths, one em­pha­sis­ing more com­pact de­vel­op­ment and the other em­pha­sis­ing green­field de­vel­op­ment.


The pro­posal: This re­search aims to pro­duce a method of rapid and thor­ough as­sess­ment of bio­di­ver­sity and ecosys­tem func­tion through state-of-the-art molec­u­lar tech­niques.

The idea is to fill the cur­rent in­for­ma­tion void around bio­di­ver­sity cri­te­ria that can be used as in­di­ca­tors of ecosys­tem func­tion in pro­duc­tive land­scapes. To fa­cil­i­tate ‘green growth’, cri­te­ria must be de­vel­oped from re­li­able, com­pre­hen­sive data and will re­quire cost-ef­fec­tive mon­i­tor­ing. Cur­rent meth­ods for mea­sur­ing ter­res­trial bio­di­ver­sity rely on costly sur­veys and scarce pro­fes­sional labour, fo­cus­ing on plants, mam­mals, and birds. Soil bio­di­ver­sity, crit­i­cal for nu­tri­ent cy­cling and car­bon se­ques­tra­tion, is ne­glected.


MASSEY UNIVER­SITY (SMART IDEA) [ 3] The pro­posal: The aim of this pro­gramme is is to de­velop a ro­bust frame­work to char­ac­terise, quan­tify, map and place an eco­nomic value on coastal-marine ecosys­tem ser­vices. Ecosys­tem ser­vices are ben­e­fits de­rived from eco­log­i­cal pro­cesses oc­cur­ring in the nat­u­ral and hu­man-mod­i­fied world that typ­i­cally are not con­sid­ered in eco­nomic de­ci­sion-mak­ing – e.g. nu­tri­ent re­cy­cling, cli­mate reg­u­la­tion, car­bon se­ques­tra­tion, and food pro­vi­sion.

SMARTER IR­RI­GA­TION, LIN­COLN VEN­TURES [ 4] The pro­posal: To de­velop a novel, cost-ef­fec­tive mois­ture sen­sor, re­sult­ing in in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity of pas­toral farm­ing, par­tic­u­larly dairy­ing, while re­duc­ing neg­a­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts. This will be achieved by re­duc­ing the wa­ter re­quired to ir­ri­gate crops – al­low­ing the ex­pan­sion of land area that can be ir­ri­gated from ex­ist­ing wa­ter takes and re­duc­ing nu­tri­ent leach­ing from over ir­ri­ga­tion, thus re­duc­ing fer­tiliser costs and ground­wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion.


The pro­posal: NZ’s trans­port and busi­ness sec­tors have the great­est po­ten­tial for sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings and in­creased com­pet­i­tive­ness through en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, fol­lowed by house­holds. En­ergy Cul­tures 2 will work with all these sec­tors to sup­port a faster and more ef­fec­tive up­take of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. It will also sup­port the up­take of new en­ergy-ef­fi­cient trans­port tech­nolo­gies and prac­tices, and iden­tify sys­tem-wide changes that will be re­quired.


The pro­posal: The NZ Sus­tain­abil­ity Dash­board project is a sus­tain­abil­ity as­sess­ment and re­port­ing tool in part­ner­ship with five pri­mary in­dus­try sec­tors. The tool is be­ing de­vel­oped to as­sist pro­duc­ers with ra­tio­nal man­age­ment of the large amounts of in­for­ma­tion avail­able and as­sist them with their sub­se­quent man­age­ment de­ci­sions. It will also help them com­ply with the ev­er­in­creas­ing de­mands for mar­ket and reg­u­la­tory re­port­ing.


IN NEW ZEALAND, MASSEY UNIVER­SITY [ 5] The pro­posal: This project will con­sol­i­date and add to knowl­edge about re­silient com­mu­ni­ties in New Zealand, across the con­tin­uum of haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion, pre­pared­ness, re­sponse and re­cov­ery – with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on in­dige­nous knowl­edge.

Build­ing on re­search on the Can­ter­bury earth­quakes, the Rena oil spill, re­sponses to eco­nomic shocks, and re­cov­ery from nat­u­ral haz­ard events, the re­search will in­ves­ti­gate post-dis­as­ter community re­silience in ur­ban, ru­ral and Maori com­mu­ni­ties.

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