Govt invests our money on aerospace studies and on boosting the food and fibre sector

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Boosts for the food and fibre sector, one of the country’s oldest industries and a major export earner, and the fledgling aerospace industry were announced yesterday.

Megan Woods put her Housing duties aside to enthuse about a development in her research, science and innovation portfolio and the potential for New Zealand to lead joint space missions.

Twelve New Zealand organisations have been chosen to work with world-leading experts at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to complete feasibility studies related to propulsion, space communications and remote sensing technologies.

Government spending of about $900,000 is mentioned about two-thirds of the way down the press statement.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the Government is backing more initiatives to boost NZ’s food and fibre sector workforce, including spending of up to $240,000 on an on-the-job mentoring programme.

Megan Woods says the aerospace feasibility studies will lead to larger-scale collaborations, potentially including joint New Zealand – Germany space missions.

Approximately $900,000 in funding has been allocated to the 12 space technology projects from MBIE’s $28 million Catalyst Fund, which is aimed at growing partnerships with international research organisations.

The recipients range from universities and research organisations to start-up enterprises, many of them conducting research for the future of our aerospace industry.

“This funding will contribute to studies that are essential for the development of their overall research and innovation efforts,” Megan Woods said.

 Woods said the Government has helped accelerate growth including through an enabling regulatory regime for space, the Airspace Integration Trials Programme and investing in the MethaneSAT climate change space mission.

She noted that Germany is one of New Zealand’s leading science and innovation partners and DLR houses some of the world’s most advanced aerospace technology capability.

“New Zealand has unique competitive advantages which help to enable growth in the aerospace industry, including our geographic location and innovative thinking.

“Remote sensing technologies have huge potential for New Zealand including for monitoring the change in our oceans and searching for vessels, pollutant spills and sea ice. Optical communications will become increasingly important for securely and quickly relaying large volumes of data to and from space craft, particularly for missions to the Moon and beyond.”

Damien O’Connor said the Government and the food and fibres sector have been working hard to fill critical workforce needs.

“We’ve committed to getting 10,000 more Kiwis into the sector over the next four years,” said Damien O’Connor

New workforce initiatives being backed by the Government include:

  • Up to $240,000 to fund an on-the-job mentoring programme aimed at building experience for Kiwis new to agricultural contracting.
  • Funding for two horticulture career development managers in Pukekohe and Canterbury to direct seasonal effort and resource where required.
  • Establishing a Food and Fibre Youth Network and Council with NZ Young Farmers to provide input into workforce and other issues.
  • Running Innovation Activator workshops with Rural Women NZ to fast track their entrepreneurial ideas.

“These initiatives follow work we’ve already done over the past eight months through the Opportunity Grows Here campaign and training initiatives that’s resulted in 3,694 more people working in the food and fibre sector,” said Damien O’Connor.

He cited the agricultural contracting programme as a good example of the government’s partnering with industry. It will be delivered by agricultural work specialists, HanzonJobs and targets job seekers affected by COVID-19, Ministry of Social Development clients, and 18-24 year olds who aren’t in education, employment or training.

The Food and Fibre Youth Network and Council will provide a formal pan-sector youth voice to raise matters such as workforce issues and provide input into critical decisions to guide the future of the sector.

“There’s no shortage of talented people in our rural communities,” said Damien O’Connor.  “The Activator sessions provide the opportunity for rural women to have intensive, mentor-led sessions with experts to help bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life.

“By harnessing these ideas and helping to get them off the ground, we will be building capability within the sector, and future employment opportunities.

“These investments in people move us along our Fit for a Better World Roadmap, which aims to accelerate our primary sector’s economic potential.”

Latest from the Beehive

7 APRIL 2021

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