Celebrating a culture of connection at our final All of Researchers’ Workshop

15 December 2023 | Read time: 5 minutes


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As we head towards the end of 2023 and closer to the end of the National Science Challenges in June 2024, we reflect increasingly on SfTI’s impact and its legacy for the future of Aotearoa’s science and innovation system. 

At our All of Researchers’ Workshop last month a large portion of the SfTI community came together for the last time to connect and share our work. The theme of the workshop was Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua - Looking backward towards the future - and as the group took this perspective collectively, it was clear that the relationships within the SfTI community were key for many. 

Board Co-Chair Te Taka Keagan likened the buzz in the room during the SfTI All of Researchers’ Workshop to what he had seen in the lunch spaces at Google, which he experienced as a visiting scientist at the Google offices in Mountain View California in 2009. 

“Computer scientists are quite focused, and a lot of their work is very one-on-one with their computer. But over at Google, they do some very innovative things and one of them is free lunch at a selection of cafes. In my team, we made a pact that every day at the same time we would all head over and eat together. It would break us out of the world we were in and allow us to talk together and converse and we’d end up collaborating. 

“I noticed these intense conversations happening all around us and I see that here around me now and I think we’ve managed to achieve something similar - we managed to get a bunch of like-minded researchers all genuinely collaborating amongst themselves.”

Throughout the two-day workshop, many people talked about the strength of the relationships within SfTI. It became clear that these relationships, which reach across technical disciplines and out of the lab into the community, could potentially be the most lasting legacy of SfTI. Attendees at the workshop felt this sense of connection throughout the innovation system enabled the scientific outcomes and technological breakthroughs. 

SfTI director Sally Davenport talked about how this was the intention of SfTI, to shift behaviour within the science system in a way that supported more innovation and better outcomes for high-tech science in Aotearoa. 

“Cultivating a vibrant culture of connection is at the heart of SfTI. Our research community thrives on genuine, lasting cross-disciplinary relationships that have enhanced scientific outcomes. Despite the challenges of COVID, we have prioritised bringing teams together. 

“It's about changing behaviour and SfTI has deliberately looked to develop and implement ways of nurturing a culture of collaboration and connection and we hope our example of behavioural shift can be continued and replicated in the future.”

“It's about changing behaviour and SfTI has deliberately looked to develop and implement ways of nurturing a culture of collaboration and connection and we hope our example of behavioural shift can be continued and replicated in the future.”

Board Co-Chair Linda Cooper pointed to the importance of that culture to science impact.  

“The way to solve real-world problems is to have a mix of people involved… in collaboration not competition. For SfTI to actually achieve everything we wanted to do we had to collaborate. When I came into this I saw a lot of competition, and through SfTI we have had collaborations of the best national teams - pulling people together from different universities, different CRIs, different Iwi, different communities, and different scientific disciplines. This has been our biggest legacy. It’s you guys'' Linda said referring to the room of scientists,  

“And you will be the ones who will continue this on”.

You can access all the photos from our final All of Researchers' Workshop plus videos of the panel sessions on our Professional Development page.