Events nurture talent

The Southland Science and Technology Fair and the Southland Young Enterprise Scheme are wonderful ways to showcase the province's emerging young entrepreneurs and inventors, writes Bill English (National) in From the Beehive.

They are positive programmes which succeed thanks to the support and mentoring of local businesses and industries, and it's a great way for the community to nurture bright young people.

Both events give young people the opportunity to explore ideas and show initiative and expertise in business, physics, chemistry and technology. They have the potential to go far and to do good things for Southland and for the rest of the country.

We need this kind of innovation and in New Zealand we're very good at it. Whether it's our isolation in the world, or the old No 8 wire mentality, Kiwis are great at coming up with ideas and making things work.

The Government is keen to promote and encourage this innovation because of the benefits which flow back into the economy. To that end, we recently invested $133 million in new science research projects.

The first tranche of this investment will support 47 research projects in the biological industries, energy and minerals, the environment, hazards and infrastructure, and health and society funding categories.

The successful proposals so far range from research into combating the Psa bacterial disease in kiwifruit, to enhancing the resilience of underground infrastructure in Christchurch.

These projects have been selected on the basis of their high-quality science and the difference they can make.

This year there is an increased focus on encouraging promising new ideas that can deliver commercial results with 11 applicants receiving funding through the Smart Ideas category.

The Government is also inviting applications from businesses for the 2012 Technology Development Grant - this investment programme aims to boost research and development in businesses.

About $45m over three years is available for businesses to help speed up the development of innovative products and services and get them to market faster.

So whether it's Southland students working hard to break new ground, or hi-tech businesses striving to maintain their competitive edge internationally, science and innovation are key drivers of economic growth and the Government is ready to support them.

» Bill English is the electorate MP for Clutha-Southland.

The Southland Times