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New Zealand invests in ambitious research projects

According to a recent announcement, 69 new research projects have been awarded with a total of NZ$ 249.1 million through the 2018 round of the Endeavour Fund, which is New Zealand’s largest contestable research fund.

The Endeavour Fund invests in ambitious research projects that aim to improve the lives of New Zealanders by enhancing New Zealand’s economy, environment and society.

Some of the projects list of all projects are found hereafter.

Airborne hyperspectral remote sensing for establishing New Zealand’s baseline environmental and mineral indicators has a contract value of NZ$ 999,000.

This research program will enable New Zealand to better utilise remote sensing tools and resources for cheaper and environmentally friendly mineral resource mapping and environmental management.

It will utilise hyperspectral imaging that detects reflected light from the sun at wavelengths that are beyond the human vision.

Machine learning approaches to downscale seasonal climate forecasts for New Zealand has a contract value of NZ$ 740,000.

New Zealand’s climate is extremely variable. Key economic activities, especially in the primary sector, are directly or indirectly dependent on climate.

Better knowledge of forthcoming climate conditions could assist in better management of risks associated with climate variability.

This project will refine seasonal climate forecasts provided by global climate prediction models to the town and farm scale within New Zealand by leveraging recent cutting-edge advances in machine learning, which can learn from data and make predictions.

Drone flow: Aerial monitoring system for better river management has a contract value of NZ$ 1 million. It is a research project that would develop methods for measuring river flows from the air.

Using drones enables measurement of flows where existing methods are inadequate or dangerous, such as during floods.

The drone flow system uses a pair of drones flying in formation. An upstream drone releases biodegradable tracer particles, while a downstream drone records particle motion to resolve river surface velocities.

Development of the drone flow system positions New Zealand as a world leader in river remote sensing and provides a valuable tool for river managers tasked with maintaining or improving the health of New Zealand’s river ecosystems.               

Photonic Device for Rapid Prostrate Cancer Detection and Mapping has a contract value of NZ$ 999,999.

With prostate cancer being the second most common male cancer worldwide, and NZ among the world’s highest incidence, this project will be timely.

The technology developed will be capable of differentiating cancer cells from healthy surrounding tissues in situ, and hereby produce in real-time a mapping of the prostate with unprecedented accuracy.

The technology will dramatically reduce the need for invasive biopsies and MRI screenings. The optical probe will use the latest technology available in the field of fibre-lasers, Raman spectroscopy and advanced computational techniques to improve existing systems.

Overlapped to standard ultrasound images, the light-based multi-sensor will enhance, to a few millimetres, the accuracy of the 3D mapping of the prostate.

Data informed decision making and automation in orchards and vineyards has a contract value of NZ$ 16,769,775.

The goal of the project is to reduce the variability of human worker performance in orchards and vineyards, using augmented reality technology to help inexpert workers make expert decisions.

Moreover, it will reduce the risk associated with a transient workforce by using robotic automation.

AI will be used to interpret data and then identify and communicate actions to less experienced humans and automated robots.

The use of field data for decision making and integration into operations will transform horticulture into a data-enabled industry – changing the focus from manual labour to transferable expert knowledge and skills.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is hitting the road next month to present a series of information sessions for the 2019 Endeavour Fund around the country.

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