Tuesday, October 19, 2021

$12million for advanced drone research

The Government is boosting its Innovative Partnerships programme to the tune of $12 million – with two aviation companies signing on as partners to expand New Zealand’s advanced drone research efforts.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister, Megan Woods said the investment would propel cutting-edge innovation through a multi-faceted approach to foster more connection, collaboration and investment in New Zealand.

“Backing innovation in New Zealand is one of the key things we can do to supercharge our ongoing recovery from COVID 19, that’s why we are supporting the Innovative Partnerships programme with $12 million over the next two years to scale the programme and encourage global R&D-intensive businesses to develop new ideas and products in New Zealand,” said Dr Woods.

“I’m delighted with the successes that the Innovative Partnerships team has delivered in recent years and we are now providing a significant investment to build on those wins at scale, with a focus on transformative technologies or emerging sectors that support the Government’s vision for a more productive, inclusive and sustainable economy.

“I’m also pleased to announce an additional two partners, Dawn Aerospace, and Merlin Labs, to our Airspace Integration Trials Programme, which aims to accelerate the safe integration of advanced drones into our aviation system.”

Founded in Christchurch, Dawn Aerospace is developing same-day reusable space launch vehicles that don’t require specialised launch infrastructure. Dawn Aerospace is also manufacturing their green propellant satellite propulsion systems in Christchurch.

Merlin Labs is a US-based company developing autonomous aviation infrastructure to enable the transportation of goods, and eventually people, without the requirement for pilots. In New Zealand, it is partnering with domestic aerospace companies to develop technology that allows existing certified aircraft to fly autonomously.

Dawn Aerospace and Merlin Labs join Wisk New Zealand, Kea Aerospace, Envico Technologies, Aeronavics, and Swoop Aero in the Airspace Integration Trials Programme.

“We also want to back the aviation sector in its shift towards reduced carbon emissions so the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Air New Zealand to start preliminary work to find out whether it is possible to produce sustainable aviation fuels at scale in New Zealand,” Minister Woods said

The study, that’s being done in partnership with MBIE’s Innovative Partnerships programme will take a national approach and will look into the feasibility of establishing a commercial-scale SAF pilot plant in New Zealand.

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