INNOVATE July 2018

Read July's INNOVATE: the Science for Technological Innovation Challenge newsletter

The first Maori Data Futures Hui was held at Victoria University's Te Herenga marae in May.

If data is the new resource, what's Māori data? What does Māori data empowerment look like? And in the context of Cambridge Analytica, what about privacy?

What was initially envisaged as a small gathering morphed into a full-on crowd at a Māori Data Futures hui held at Victoria University's Te Herenga marae in May.

Around 80 people turned up registered or not from all over the motu for a workshop that included speeches, panel discussions, and working groups.

Data Specialist Kirikōwhai Mikaere opened the day with SfTI Researchers Te Taka Keegan and Maui Hudson, along with Waikato Professor Tahu Kukutai, helping set the scene.

Issues raised from the floor included questions around data self-determination, viewing data through a Māori world-view, collective vs individual data responsibility, value of data extending beyond the commercial, and the use of data for improving wellness for Māori and others. A  deep need to educate Māori and non-Māori about data and technology was frequently mentioned.

The event ended with some robust feedback from a group of rangatahi monitors, who offered to co-host a future event.

Organiser SfTI Capacity Development Advisor Willy-John Martin, says next steps are to co-host future hui at other locations around the country, with a focus on regional areas.

P1 researchers release initial findings

SfTI’s Portfolio 1: Building New Zealand’s innovation capacity project examines human (people and their skills), and relational capacity (networks between researchers and industry) within New Zealand’s innovation system.

The Building New Zealand's Innovation Capacity project, currently inlcuding 10 researchers from AUT, and Otago, Victoria and Waikato Univerisites, will continue over the Challenge’s lifetime and has strong links to SfTI’s ongoing capacity development activities.

Led by Katharina Ruckstuhl and Urs Daellenbach, the project considers how processes of forming missions and organising science teams have been affected and when, and with whom, the teams connect with industry and Māori organisations while pursuing their project.   

 Dr Ruckstuhl says the  research has documented the diverse ways teams, including some starting virtually from scratch and those more well-established, organise themselves to do science.

"We’ve found leadership to be an important aspect of any collaborative research, and while Spearheads have utilised a variety of styles and management techniques, when it comes to keeping people on track they have demonstrated marked similarities," she says.

The way teams engage with potential external collaborators, and timing of engagement, varied.

“Some teams started early with people and organisations they already knew, with others building in engagement during later phases and connecting in new users once a shared interest, or application of knowledge, became evident," Dr Daellenbach said.

New Spearheads have used interactions with industry advisory groups to inform key choices within their projects, he said.

Early engagement with Māori had been a feature of some Spearheads, with others incorporating this as their research progressed or new possibilities emerged. Dr Ruckstuhl noted benefits from engaging with Māori organisations and communities had created new projects where novel science was being pursued and informed by these collaborators.

While primarily qualitative researchers, surveys of SfTI researchers and businesses have reinforced that connecting R&D and sci-tech to business is important to innovation and product development.

It can, however, require scientists to be open to such interactions earlier than may currently be typical.
Based on research to date the team’s next steps will be to hone in on some key themes, including factors affecting type and timing of engagement, and the kinds of processes that enable productive interactions.

The team will also look at how reseachers’ worldviews affect science direction and engagement, particularly with Māori. As well, the team will look at how policies like Vision Mātauranga achieve innovation outcomes.

Portfolio 1’s co-leaders highlight this will entail Portfolio One researchers re-interviewing the first Spearhead teams, both the project leaders and some members.

For new Spearheads, the team will focus on the key themes. Our observations continue to help guide development of our next set of projects.

SfTI researcher, Katharina Ruckstuhl.

SfTI researcher, Urs Daellenbach.

SfTI researchers pitch winners:

Teams from 19 SfTI projects participated in the Challenge's inaugural $50k plus Accelerate your impact pitch competition held in Auckland in April during the researchers Innovation Workshop.

The teams pitched the value of their work to a three-person panel made up ofentrepreneur Daniel Batten, Kiwinet CEO James Hutchinson, and Callaghan Innovation Group Manager Māori Economy sector, Aroha Armstrong.

Pitches from Leonie Jones (Nitrate sensor arrays), Nicholas Rattenbury (Deployable nano-satellite aperture radar for monitoring NZ’s EEZ), Renee Goreham (Magnetic silver clusters),  Kent Hamilton (Data analytics to enable wide-area monitoring of electricity distribution lines), and Richard Parker (Karetao Hangarau-a -Mahi: Adaptive learning robots to complement the human workforce), each won $10,000.

The remaining 14 teams won $500. Prizes will be used to accelerate the winner’s SfTI project, either in research support or capacity development.

Mission Lab Report

Results from SfTI's Mission Lab held in Auckland in April are now available on   
The six concepts promoted by the Lab include:

  • Place-Based Awareness
  • Space and Spatial
  • A New Version of Smart Houses
  • Veracity - Truthfulness of Data
  • Biosecurity
  • Soft Electronics.

A seventh topic covers beneficial use of data for Māori, for example giving effect to foundational Māori philosophies such as kaitiakitanga, and ensuring algorithm development is guided by Māori values.

SfTI is developing these concepts to separate out more clearly novel technology and research from that already available.  Mission Lab attendees and a few industry experts are also being asked about their tech novelty needs.

Date posted: 26/07/2018