Higher Education

First computer technology research institute at New Zealand: Key to new innovations

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The NZ$20 million dollar ICT Innovation Institute, otherwise known as NZI3, recently opened at Canterbury University and it's hoped it will help turn great ideas into commercial success stories. The ICT Innovation Institute will house engineers and scientists who invent radical computer technology used in everything from supermarket computers, to military hardware. Centre director, Darin Graham, says that the ICT Centre is designed to bridge the gap between business and the ivory tower of academia. 'This is going to be a very sexy place, it's certainly not geeky,' said Graham. 'The entire space is all open concept. It's not like a typical university environment where everyone's in their cloistered little offices and hiding away.' Business stumped up NZ$10 million in funding, with the Government matching this. And Prime Minister John Key says it will have benefits for the whole country.

New Zealand company Tait Electronics is one of the founding companies backing the institute and is keen to see academics' ideas turned into a commercial reality. 'Innovation without a commercial imperative is effectively just a hobby,' said Tait Electronics Managing Director, Michael Chick. One of the ideas that's really taking off is PhD student John Stowers' aerial mapping project, Quadrota. It has huge commercial potential and he says working in the NZI3 centre alongside researchers from the likes of IBM and Hewlett Packard will help speed up its development. Stowers is just one of the talented students who can flourish in the new environment NZI3 presents.

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