February 29, 2024

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NZ Government to boost Smart Ideas and research projects

The University of Auckland was awarded with almost NZ$ 27 million in funding for a wide range of research projects affecting the physical and environmental health of New Zealanders.

According to a recent press release, the projects awarded funding this year will investigate water quality, plastics recycling and developing new technologies to mitigate the effects of cancer therapy.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced overall funding for eight Smart Ideas projects of almost NZ$ 8 million, which is an increase over last year’s NZ$ 2.2 million.

Along with total funding of NZ$ 18,893,370 from the Research Programmes fund, ten research projects are awarded a total of NZ$ 26.8 million for up to five years across education, health, nutrition and climate change.

Smart Ideas projects

A Smart Ideas funding of NZ$ 978,782 was awarded to a Senior Research Fellow from the Liggins Institute.

The funding will be used for the development of a novel approach to consensual decision-making on issues such as climate change and data use, which are two policy areas of strong public and political debate.

Meanwhile, a Smart Ideas project from the Faculty of Engineering will receive NZ$ 991,095.

As more and more people are living in the cities, new solutions for adequate intrusive noise, particularly at lower frequencies like the base beat from music systems, are needed.

The project is to develop a lightweight building partition system to reduce building noise pollution levels.

Other Smart Ideas projects to receive funding include development of personalised medicine for movement disorders, which includes stroke.

The project will help clinicians to rapidly and accurately generate biomedical models of the muscles and bones of individuals to classify walking gait.

Led by an Associate Professor from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, the project will receive NZ$ 999,948.

Also awarded a Smart Ideas funding is a project that will use bacterial enzymes to biodegrade plastics widely used in drink bottles.

An Associate from the Faculty of Science will lead this project with funding of NZ$ 997,191.

Other Projects to receive funding

Two projects under the Research Programmes fund will receive NZ$ 13,676,785 to help prepare New Zealanders in the event of an unprecedented volcanic eruption that causes ongoing disruption in the largest cities.

This work, led by a Professor from the University’s School of Environment, aims to radically cut down uncertainty and develop new mitigation strategies to transform the way New Zealand responds in the face of the continuous change such an eruption would bring.

Meanwhile, a multidisciplinary research into the overall wellbeing of vulnerable children will be led by a Professor from Medical Health.

With funding of NZ $5,216,585, the project will involve a diverse group of 6,000 children to address widening inequalities as they emerge into adulthood.

A major project led by a Professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work will receive NZ$ 982,854.

The project will co-design a Kaupapa Māori protocol for more effectively realising Māori children’s participation in the child protection system.

According to Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon, successfully funded projects, in such vital areas, show the breadth and innovation of the research being done at the University of Auckland.

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