CoREs get funding top-up, new mission statement

Of the many experiments that have been undertaken in the New Zealand science system, one is generally considered to have been very successful – the formation of the centres of research excellence (CoREs).

There are seven CoREs and they each have a specific focus –  from advanced materials and nanotechnology at the MacDiarmid Institute to pregnancy and early childhood health at Gravida. What politicians, funding agencies and the scientists themselves like about the CoREs is that they strongly encourage and foster collaboration. A CoRE will generally be based at a particular university but its researchers will be scattered across numerous institutions. It is an ideal way to bring together the best scientific brains in a particular area while mitigating the competitive factor that comes with a contestable science funding model.

The CoREs were recently reviewed by the Government, which has endorsed the model with an announcement last night from Minister Steven Joyce that the CoREs with receive an additional $9.5 million over the next three years.

The funding comes hand in hand with some changes – there is a “clearer” mission statement for the CoREs and “stronger performance expectations”.

The new mission statement is outlined here.

Announcement from Steven Joyce

The Government is investing in stronger Centres of Research Excellence to boost innovation and research-led learning in New Zealand’s universities, Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

Additional funding in Budget 2013 of $9.5 million is being backed up by a clearer mission statement and stronger performance expectations for the centres.

“Centres of Research Excellence play an important and unique role in supporting world-class research, with positive economic and social and benefits to New Zealand,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Government has completed a review of the centres and found their work supports the Government’s goals for innovation and economic growth. We’re seeing evidence of increased quantity and quality of research, greater collaboration and impacts for industry, public services and the environment. This confirms the value of our on-going investment.”

The Government is making some changes to optimise the centres’ performance by clarifying its expectations and establishing more transparent performance management.

“With the additional funding of $3.169 million per annum, provided through Budget 2013, we expect to see the centres continue to go from strength to strength,” Mr Joyce says.

Applications for the new contestable funding round are open with funding announcements expected to be made in May 2014. Funding will begin on 1 January 2015 for a six-year period to 2020.

The Royal Society of New Zealand has been contracted by the Tertiary Education Commission to establish necessary processes to make funding recommendations to the TEC.

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