An update on the National Science Challenges

by Sir Peter Gluckman
Close up of New Zealand on a 3D Puzzle

Last Friday the National Science Challenge panel reconvened to meet with MBIE and MBIE’s Science Board to review progress on the National Science Challenges and to be debriefed on the workshops and Hui to date. The Panel then reviewed the status of each Challenge in depth. In general the panel was pleased by progress to date, although given the novelty of the process, all are on a learning curve.

One goal of the Challenge process is to induce culture changes in our science system. Indeed it is pleasing to see how the nature of many of the discussions is evolving. Some are now moving well away from an institutional focus. There is, however, a need to be more inclusive of a range of academic domains (bridging the gap between the physical/biological and social sciences remains an issue in some cases) and to be more inclusive of Maori and Pasifika perspectives across the challenges.

It is important to emphasize that the challenge discussions need to focus on demonstrating additionality and innovation within the science plan. The challenges are intended to bring the best people within the New Zealand scientific community together to focus on goals that will really benefit New Zealand over the next decade. The proposals that will be developed in due course for external review must demonstrate clear scientific additionality in their plans to address the scientific goals set by each Challenge. The proposals will have a high level of international peer review and evaluation before funding is approved.

Meetings are continuing to develop each of the Challenges. MBIE and peak panel members will continue to be engaged to ensure these discussions stay focused on the central issues of multi-disciplinarity, additionality, and high quality science.

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