The Government released its decisions regarding the National Science Challenges on 1 May 2013. This is a very important step forward in reshaping New Zealand’s public science system.
Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, who chaired the panel that made recommendations to Government following the consultation exercise will present the Challenges as agreed to by the Government, review the process and criteria used in reaching these decisions and outline the next steps in operationalizing the Challenges.
Sir Peter Gluckman and accompanying Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment staff will answer questions arising following the presentation.
Responses From the Science Community to the National Science Challenges
MacDiarmid Institute Director, Professor Kate McGrath expressed concern that the Challenges focus solely on areas of research New Zealand has always excelled in, without addressing the need to improve areas of weakness.
“If you look at the ten challenges that have been put forward, they come from a very historical basis, so, what is it that we’re already good at? What have we been doing for a really long time? As opposed to, in my opinion, having a vision of what the future can be. I was hoping that this amazing opportunity that had been afforded this panel and the country as a whole would be taken seriously in terms of a future direction, and I don’t see that as having happened.”
Listen to Prof. McGrath’s interview with Radio New Zealand’s “Our Changing World.”
MacDiarmid Institute Principle Investigator Professor Shaun Hendy responded to the announcement with some disappointment, stating the challenges fail to “throw up anything that is really new or innovative… Of the 10 science challenges selected, only one really addresses one of the key economic challenges our country faces: namely the over-dependence of our economy on the primary sector.” Source
Listen to Prof. Hendy’s interview with Radio New Zealand’s “Morning Report”