Science, technology set to receive $761M Budget boost

Science, technology set to receive $761M Budget boost

The potential of science and technology to boost economic growth has been recognised by the Government in this year's Budget.

The Innovative New Zealand package will see $761.4 million invested over the next four years in science, skills, tertiary education and regional development projects.

Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce says the increased funding will increase investment in the sector by a further 15 percent by 2019/20.

Science, technology set to receive $761M Budget boost

Mr Joyce says the investment demonstrates how important the work of scientists and innovators is in strengthening and future-proofing the New Zealand economy.

"We need more skilled people in disciplines like science, engineering, agriculture and the key trades if we are to continue to grow a high-value, diversified New Zealand economy," he says.

The package also includes a series of regional economic development initiatives that will directly benefit communities in regional New Zealand.

Of the $410.5 million for science, $113.8 million will go to the new Endeavour Fund, previously known as the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Contestable Fund.

The Marsden Fund will get $66 million, increasing the annual amount available by 49 percent over four years.

It provides grants for investigator-initiated research in science, engineering, maths, social sciences and humanities.

Of the spending, $63 million will go to the Strategic Science Investment Fund, some of which will go towards freshwater research and NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa.

Other entities set to benefit include the Maori Innovation Fund which is getting $20 million and Antarctica New Zealand which is getting $16.7 million over four years.

The $256.5 million for the tertiary education sector will encourage training in science, engineering and agriculture, including $86.1 million for targeted tuition subsidy increases and removing disincentives for degree providers to grow science and technology.

Of the $94.4 million for regional economic development, $44 million goes to the regional growth programme.

Meanwhile, a step towards meeting New Zealand's target of reducing emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 has been made -- Minister of Climate Change Paula Bennett's phasing out the Emissions Trading Scheme one-for-two subsidy.

The current 50 percent unit cost will increase to 67 percent from January 1, then 83 percent from January 1 2018.

All sectors in the scheme will be paying the full market price from the start of 2019.