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New Zealand to release Data Science Call for Proposals

In April, New Zealand is going to issue a new Call for Proposals for the New Zealand Data Science Programmes.

According to a recent press release, the government aims to lift capability in data science while addressing big challenges for the environment, society or the economy.

Programme Background

The New Zealand Government wants to advance the development of a dynamic and world-class data science research capability for the country.

The report defined data science as the scientific methods, processes, algorithms and systems to extract knowledge and insights from data in various forms, both structured and unstructured.

Data science is changing how things are done at an extraordinary rate, providing new ways to improve prosperity and wellbeing.

To harness the benefits, New Zealand needs to be at the forefront of the emerging technologies.

While New Zealand has pockets of world class expertise in data science, current capability is dispersed and small scale.

This investment is intended to significantly lift New Zealand’s advanced data science capability.

Funding for the project will be NZ$ 49 million in over 7 years and will be allocated through the Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF).

The Government wishes to invest in a portfolio of up to four strategic research programmes because they believe that given the speed at which data science advances, the goals will be better achieved by investing in connected and sharply focussed multi-disciplinary research teams.

Investment Goals

The report outlined 5 of the Government’s investment goals. These are:

  1. Deliver excellence

The project should produce excellent, cutting edge, dynamic and paradigm-shifting data science research.

  1. Grow Capability

It should grow the scale, depth, excellence and impact of New Zealand’s data science research.

The programmes will have strong leadership and multidisciplinary teams and will attract top international researchers and support emerging researchers

  1. Deliver additionality

Provision of fresh and ambitious thinking, new people, new collaborations, new and expanded research, as well as new impacts would not have happened without this investment.

  1. Leverage strategic collaborations

Foster and grow international and national partnerships amongst data science researchers, and between data science researchers and end users.

Partnerships should support research excellence and grow capability.

  1. Vision Mātauranga

It should give effect to the Vision Mātauranga policy practically and meaningfully for Māori.

Each programme will be contracted separately with funding between NZ$ 1 to NZ$ 3 million per year for up to 7 years.

Each will consist of a team of deeply aligned multi-disciplined partners inspired by a real world domain/use case.

The teams will be encouraged to collaborate with each other as appropriate.

Research Focus

The research will focus on addressing profound and complex data science challenges to expand the data science body of knowledge.

These areas include machine learning; statistical learning; data mining; image processing; language processing; visualisation; transparency and metrics; and Te Ao Māori and data science.

The Government is interested in application domain areas such as agritech, environment/conservation, urban systems, space technologies, precision health, and energy technologies.

Other domain areas that inspire advanced and stretchy data science can be considered.

Success will be measured through the following:

  1. Excellent transformative research.
  2. New instances where advanced data science is addressing real world issues that benefit New Zealand.
  3. A bigger more capable community of data scientists and data science researchers.


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