(Stuff.co.nz) The New Zealand government has made a big new investment in the country’s future – $36.75 million funding over the next 7.5 years for the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies.
The photonics industry in NZ is worth at least $1.2 billion and is growing at 10 per cent per annum. The country also has a world-class reputation in quantum optics, photonics, and precision atomic physics.
he UK, Europe and the US have pledged over NZ$4 billion in additional funding for this quantum revolution. China is committing similar, undisclosed levels of funding. That’s alongside tech giants such as Google, IBM and Intel.
Globally, the sector is on the up. But if the big players are investing in this technology, why should New Zealand?
New Zealand didn’t invent steam technology, but by having engineers with the skills to operate coal refrigeration it could harness it to open up a massive industry for the country. In Dunedin, William Davidson fitted a ship called the Dunedin with a coal-powered freezing plant, a relatively new technology at the time. About 5000 sheep carcasses were loaded onto the ship, frozen, and taken to London where it was noted for its quality. By having engineers with the skill and knowledge to build and run a coal-powered freezer for shipping, New Zealand was able to export meat and dairy products to the world – creating a new cornerstone for New Zealand’s economy.
The Government’s investment will enable the Dodd-Walls Centre to support industries, underpin the development of new technologies and inform our education programmes. It will enable New Zealand to continue our work with partners in the agricultural technology and Māori economy sectors to improve the rural economy. As the story of the Dunedin shows, technology isn’t just about discovering something new. It’s also about being able to put that new breakthrough or idea into practice and into business.
In addition to the economic impact, New Zealand will directly improve the wellbeing of all Kiwis through our environmental and medical research.