Stories by John Hartevelt, The Press

$225m science, technology spending boost

Prime Minister John Key has announced $225m of new spending on science and technology. Mr Key announced funding in a speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce at Te Papa this morning. A further $96m in the same area would be "reprioritised," Key announced. The total $321m spend is spread over four years. There would be a $234 million boost for support for business research and development over four years. It would include: * $189.5 million over four years for technology development grants * $20 million over four years to trial technology transfer vouchers, meant to encourage links between companies and publicly-funded research organisations * $11 million over four years to help technology transfer from research organisations to businesses and commercialisation of new products * $13.7 million over four years in contingency funding for initiatives to improve the transfer of technology from research organisations to the private sector Other new initiatives were: *$25 million over four years for the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships, meant to support early to mid-career researchers * $9 million over three years, starting in 2011/12 to attract top science entrepreneurial talent to New Zealand * $44.3 million over four years in contingency funding for proposed large-scale science infrastructure, subject to Cabinet approval. Mr Key said the spend showed the Government was taking investment in science seriously. "This major investment will not only help keep New Zealand competitive, but is at the heart of our strategy to boost economic growth," he said. "The Budget will focus squarely on building faster and sustainable economic growth - it's the only way we can create the jobs, higher incomes and the better living standards New Zealanders deserve." Before it was elected in 2008, Mr Key announced that National would scrap the $700m "Fast Forward Fund" and tax credits for Research and Development. The fund was set up by the former Labour Government. Treasury recommended the Government keep the R&D tax credit, for at least the next five years. It also recommended the Fast Forward fund should be retained.