New projects strengthen science links between France and New Zealand

More than 30 French and New Zealand scientists will begin work this year on 12 collaborative projects intended to develop new knowledge leading to practical applications in both countries.  

The projects are the first under a multi-year co-operation agreement between France’s largest agricultural and environmental research organisation (INRAE) and Science New Zealand on behalf of the Crown Research Institutes.

Under the Joint Linkage Call Agreement, 32 scientists (including 12 early career researchers) will be exchanged in 2024 between the two countries.

While the exchanges are relatively short – up to one month in each country – the projects will last at least a year and are expected to lead to longer lasting joint activity.

Focus areas for the first set of projects include crop and fruit production, insect pest management, forestry production, biowaste management, climate change adaptation, and food production. As well as being important to both countries, these are areas of global interest.

Plant & Food Research partners in seven of the 12 projects, Scion in four and AgResearch in one.

INRAE is France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment. Its 14 divisions and 18 research centres across France conduct research in areas similar to that of the Crown Research Institutes.   

The Joint Linkage Agreement builds on a history of scientific exchange between France and New Zealand dating back almost 200 years to the work of master mariner, explorer and botanist Dumont D’Urville.   

Science New Zealand Chief Executive Anthony Scott said the Joint Linkage initiative significantly boosts French-New Zealand scientific co-operation. Further bids will open in September 2024.

“INRAE is an excellent partner to CRIs, given the calibre of its people, complementary areas of research and commitment to application of the science. Sharing the very latest thinking and technologies, and working together on issues that matter, will benefit us all,” Scott said.

“Today, more than ever, science needs to work locally, but with global partners, to address the world’s biggest challenges and opportunities.”

President and CEO of INRAE Dr Philippe Mauguin, who co-signed the Agreements in Wellington in March 2023, said his organisation was delighted to work with New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes.

“Like us, they are about excellence in science and its application. We, like the CRIs, foster innovation, provide expertise, and inform public policies.

“These exchanges will strengthen bilateral relationships and benefit the Pacific region and further afield.”

Each programme has to have an INRAE and CRI participant. Bids are reviewed by a panel of research directors from INRAE and Science New Zealand.