Major funding investment in University of Auckland research

16 September 2014

The University of Auckland has received 14 grants totalling more than $48 million of new funding in the latest funding round announced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The University’s success rate in this round is a significant achievement, amounting to more than one third of the funds allocated nationally in this funding round.   

This success rate compares well with 2013, when the University received less than 10 percent of the funds available nationally.

“The success for the University of Auckland in the 2014 round was driven in large part by the support measures put in place and co-ordinated by the Research Office, and supported by UniServices," says the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), Distinguished Professor Jane Harding. "We are delighted that so many of our researchers succeeded in a very competitive round.”

Ten out of the 14 successful proposals (Smart Ideas, Targeted Research and Enabling Technology) were supported by the Research Office-coordinated assistance strategy (71 percent of the successful proposals).

Highlights of the successful proposals included six successful Smart Ideas grants, six grants in the Targeted Research category, and two in Enabling Technology.

Dean of Science Professor John Hosking says the funding of these grants was an acknowledgement of the world-class research being carried out.

“This funding goes towards highly advanced science research in a wide variety of fields where our scientists are pioneering new technologies and research that will contribute not only to New Zealand’s economic growth but to everyday aspects of people’s lives”, says Professor Hosking.

“I congratulate the researchers who have been successful in this funding round and I am delighted that the very important work being done here at the University has attracted such substantial investment,” he says.

Successful projects that were funded in the 2014 science investment round include the Biocide Toolbox led by Professor Ralph Cooney from the School of Chemical Sciences which received $15.2 million.

The aim is to create greener biocides agents which combine new synthetic and natural agents. The interdisciplinary team on the project includes Scion, the Cawthron Institute and the University of Otago. Commercialisation partners include thirty three companies.

Research on high-density air quality measurement instruments led by Professor David Williams from the School of Chemical Sciences received $4.89 million while senior lecturer Dr Frederique Vanholsbeeck of the Department of Physics receives $3.12 million for a food safe project on real-time bacterial counts.

University of Auckland engineering research was awarded almost $20 million in new funding for a range of advanced technology projects and robotics.

The Advanced Materials for Manufacturing group at the University received $10.4 million over six years while a project to develop robots for the horticultural industry received $7.6 million over four years.

Research in transport materials engineering specifically on aggregates led by senior lecturer Dr Doug Wilson from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in collaboration with the Geology Department received $1 million over four years.

The Faculty of Arts received $2 million for research into ‘Children engaged and participating in the digital world’.

The Dean of Education, Professor Graeme Aitken says, “We welcome the opportunity to be engaged with schools in advancing understanding of children's learning in an increasingly digital world."