The government's pro-science agenda will get an election year push with the announcement of up to 10 major funding deals in areas of importance to the New Zealand economy and society in coming months.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced the award of funding contracts to three universities and two Crown Research Institutes for an initial five years' funding worth $30.6 million to investigate and validate the nutritional and health benefits of new, high value foods.
Among areas the High Value Nutrition Challenge will examine are the development of foods that improve suppleness, flexibility and recovery from industry and whether foods can be developed that lift levels of immunity and increase allergy tolerance.
"Food and beverages are important contributors to the growth of New Zealand exports. This challenge will focus on how New Zealand can add value through science to our primary produce," said Joyce in a statement.
The challenge is led by researchers from the University of Auckland, the University of Otago, Massey University, AgResearch, and Plant and Food Research and will become eligible for a further $53.2 million over five years after a review at the initial five year review point.
"Along with relevant Crown research institute core funding of $97 million over ten years, total funding for the High-Value Nutrition Challenge is up to $180.8 million over 10 years," Joyce said.
Announcements on the Deep South and Resilience to Nature's Challenges projects are advancing and proposals for the remaining seven challenges are due this month, with funding announcements set to be made through the year.