Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Now we're getting somewhere.

The fluff that keeps getting announced by the Ministry of Everything has been getting me down. There's been some nice things in there (increased recognition of the science etc.) but overall, I don't really think most of it has done or will do much, either for science in New Zealand or for New Zealand itself.
So it's nice to see something that sets a bit of direction and will, I think help: funding. The ministry has released their first round of investment. This is where how you get scientists and innovators interested - show them what you want to work on. It provides direction and will get people thinking about what they want to work on that could possibly contribute to the goals.
The biological industries fund - seems good. There are projects attempting to build on (or save) what we have. And I like the Hazards/Infrastructure section and it's particularly relevant with the whole Christchurch thing - putting thought into how we live as a society is always a good thing. The Energy minerals sections has some good points, there's a decent chunk of money for renewables research and grid storage. The focus on ageing puzzles me a bit in the health/society fund, but it's not a bad thing.
Ideally the fund as a whole could have been bigger, but that's a complaint that could be made no matter what the size. It's unfortunate I think, that they're looking at spending money on researching offshore mining. A couple of the biology projects seem ... overly focused maybe. There's two grants for the "Leather and Shoe Research Association" which at first glance to me seem like they should be being funded by industry. Especially since we don't, to the best of my knowledge, actually have a shoe industry here any more. Is this an attempt to create one or is it to improve the hides we presumably send offshore?
All in all, on the assumption that this is new funding and not old funding shuffled around, it's not a bad start. Not spectacular, but definitely not bad.

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