Clean Water Technology – Improving our waterways for future generations

6 April 2020 | Read time: 5 minutes


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One of the workshop facilitators, Mark Buntzen, asked participants to place each other’s ideas on axes.

On March 10, SfTI brought together over 40 workshop participants including researchers, sector representatives and industry stakeholders to focus on how science and technology could provide solutions to improve New Zealand’s water quality. 

This workshop was the next step in the development of a Clean Water Technology (CWT) Spearhead project. The result was five research ideas to develop.

Background to the workshop

In December 2019, we called for expressions of capability from researchers to support the design of a new Spearhead project arising from the Clean Water Technology (CWT) Mission Lab. Successful applicants joined the Clean Water Technology researchers workshop on March 10, 2020. The focus of the workshop was to discuss next steps, and develop project ideas that could become part of a single, integrated research programme.

From the outset the workshop looked at the issue though a Mātauranga Māori lens, drawing on the concept of te mana o te wai, which sees the water itself at the centre.

What happened at the workshop?

The workshop bought together researchers from diverse disciplines including Māori researchers, along with representatives from the water sector, and industry stakeholders. It was an opportunity to explore a wide variety of ideas, and bring participants together to critically analyse and narrow down these ideas into a collection of potential programme components.

The attendees were asked to leave their personal research projects at the door and bring their unique skills, knowledge and world view to the problem we are looking to solve – how can we improve our waterways for future generations?

Watch this two minute video to learn more:

Don Cleland, SfTI Leadership Team member and Materials, Manufacturing and Design research theme leader:

 “We are asking these researchers to work in a new way. It isn’t about their individual ideas but what is best for NZ."

Five CWT project ideas

During the workshop, ideas were presented to the group and then placed on axes on the floor. They were were ranked in a way that identified those with the greatest potential impact for New Zealand, with the most science stretch and novelty.

As the day progressed five research project ideas were identified to take forward:

  1. Sensors - The sensing challenge
  2. Decision-making platform for complex data sets
  3. Sensor / data integration network based on community values
  4. Integrated bio-remediation - biological system to heal water/designer microbial communities
  5. Advanced remediation (and capture) toolkit

What’s next?

SfTI has analysed the feedback received from participants on the five potential project ideas, and have landed on three to be developed further. We are now working through who will lead these research ideas to the next stage, and look forward to communicating this information more widely in the coming weeks.



More information about our Spearhead project development process

SfTI currently has eight Spearhead projects, all developed through a ‘Mission design’ process. This process is not typical for New Zealand science. Instead of asking research teams to compete for funding, we pose a mission identified from the Mission Lab and then call for expressions of capability from researchers to form best research teams to help us hone the mission toward a Spearhead project. This involves aligning researcher capabilities with our mission to build new cross-discipline, multi-organisational teams. Learn more about SfTI’s Spearhead project development process and its Mission-led approach.