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AI, smart sensors, robotics feature in $236.5 million Endeavour funding round

Peter Griffin, Editor. 08 September 2022, 3:17 pm

The tech industry has long lamented the absence in New Zealand of a dedicated research fund for tech-related projects.

It means that cutting-edge artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing proposals have to duke it out in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s annual Endeavour Fund round for a slice of the funding pie. The same goes for the Marsden Fund, the country’s largest blue sky research fund. While it has a Mathematical and Information Sciences assessment panel, tech-related projects rarely feature prominently among grant recipients.

But the 2022 Endeavour round, which saw 71 projects granted a total of $236.5 million in multi-year funding, shows how technology is being applied to tackle complex issues including climate change, natural hazards and social issues.

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The science funding landscape 2022 - source - MBIE

“Some of the successful projects include developing new technology to reduce geothermal carbon emissions, forecasting future threats such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and utilising AI to make future weather and climate projections”, says Research, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Ayesha Verrall.

Tech-related projects from among the list of grant winners include:

Smart Ideas projects

Machine learning and CRISPR technologies to understand rumen methanogen interactions $999,999 3 years - AgResearch Limited

Using artificial intelligence to improve weather forecasts $999,879 2 years - Bodeker Scientific Limited

Smart Capacitive Sensing Floors for Smarter Homes $999,991 3 years - Massey University

Smart Robotic Capsule to Advance Management of Gastrointestinal Diseases $999,999 3 years - Massey University

Combining Physics and Artificial Intelligence—A hybrid model for actionable climate projections $999,999 3 year - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited

Wai-Spy with an artificial eye: now-casting water quality using real-time camera radiometry $999,999 3 years - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited

Implanted sensors monitoring tree health and carbon capture efficiency $999,999 3 years - New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited

A Multimodal Wearable Device for the Rapid Detection of Complications after Gut Surgery $999,999 3 years - University of Auckland

Robotic fish to enable effective coastal kaitiakitanga: information is power $999,999 3 years -  X-craft Enterprises Limited

Research programmes

Developing a Construction 4.0 transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand's construction sector $10,270,359 4 years - NZ Heavy Engineering Research Association

Separately, MBIE last month announced $5.1 million for three research projects that will explore how artificial intelligence could improve access to healthcare. The projects will employ the digital human technology pioneered by Auckland-based start-up Soul Machines.


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