Sci­en­tists drawn to re­gion

Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - Peter Tif­fany

New Zealand has some of the world’s lead­ing sci­en­tific minds, and they are at­tract­ing their in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts from all parts of the world to hear them speak at sci­en­tific gath­er­ings in the Waikato and else­where.

The sci­en­tists, with a lit­tle help from Tourism New Zealand, are rais­ing the pro­file of the Waikato as a hub of sci­ence in New Zealand, with Hamil­ton gain­ing an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for sci­en­tific re­search.

Tourism New Zealand’s global man­ager busi­ness events, Anna Fen­nessy, says that for the year ended June 2018, Hamil­ton is the fourth largest re­gion for busi­ness events, be­hind Auck­land, Welling­ton and Christchurch.

“New Zealand is renowned for its sci­en­tific in­no­va­tion and re­search and is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing recog­nised as a pre­ferred lo­ca­tion for sci­en­tific con­fer­ences and busi­ness events,” she says. “Busi­ness events bring eco­nomic ben­e­fits to a re­gion, with del­e­gates spend­ing more than the av­er­age vis­i­tor and ex­plor­ing the area.”

Tourism New Zealand says that in the past four or five years it has helped New Zealand’s sci­ence com­mu­nity se­cure 112 sci­encere­lated con­fer­ences, adding $138 mil­lion to the econ­omy. Sev­eral of these con­fer­ences have never been held in the South­ern Hemi­sphere­be­fore.

Pro­fes­sor Craig Cary of the Univer­sity of Waikato says New Zealand’s ap­proach to con­fer­ence bids blitzes the com­pe­ti­tion.

He was an in­te­gral part of the teams that re­cently se­cured three events — in­clud­ing one in Hamil­ton next year — that will bring thou­sands of the world’s lead­ing re­searchers to New Zealand. The 8th In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Po­lar and Alpine Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy has been con­firmed for Hamil­ton over five days in Fe­bru­ary 2019.

The other two are the 18th In­ter­na­tional Sym­po­sium on Mi­cro­bial Ecol­ogy in 2020 in Auck­land and the Sci­en­tific Com­mit­tee on Antarc­tic Re­search Bi­ol­ogy Sym­po­sium in Christchurch in 2021.

“We an­tic­i­pate regis­tra­tions from more than 20 coun­tries for the con­fer­ence in Hamil­ton. This al­lows us to ac­cen­tu­ate the pro­file of the Waikato as a hub of sci­ence in New Zealand and to show­case our re­gion,” Pro­fes­sor Cary says. “To se­cure these in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences we re­ally need to do more [than North­ern Hemi­sphere coun­ter­parts]. Tourism New Zealand makes it easy — it makes us look so good.

“In the space of 18 months we se­cured three ma­jor sci­en­tific con­fer­ences that have never been held in New Zealand be­fore — that is un­heard of,” he says.

Tourism New Zealand has re­cently part­nered with Ku­dos Sci­ence Awards Trust, based in Hamil­ton, to fur­ther pro­mote the sci­ence com­mu­nity and sci­en­tific busi­ness events po­ten­tial in the re­gion. The trust, New Zealand’s sole re­gional sci­en­tific awards pro­gramme, recog­nises the achieve­ments of the Waikato’s top sci­en­tists and sup­ports on­go­ing re­search.

“With the help of Tourism New Zealand we see the op­por­tu­nity to show­case the in­no­va­tion in our re­gion to a na­tional and in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence,” says Pro­fes­sor Ross Lawren­son, chair­per­son of awards trust.

Since 2016 Tourism New Zealand has sup­ported 17 Waikato-based in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences through its Con­fer­ence As­sis­tance Pro­gramme and del­e­gate mar­ket­ing pro­grammes. Nine of the 11 in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences won were sci­ence-re­lated.

Photo / Sup­plied

Pro­fes­sor Craig Cary, a mi­cro­bial ecol­o­gist who re­searches bac­te­ria which live in ex­treme en­vi­ron­ments.

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