Submitted by admin on April 22, 2009 - 22:18
SCIENCE IN INDUSTRY
The deep penetration of science into industry which characterises particularly much of today's technology has provided the small industrial manufacturing units and the somewhat amorphous primary industries with problems which have been solved in a variety of ways. The superficial view that the results of overseas research can simply be translated into New Zealand practice has been disproved so often that the need has long been apparent for independent work both in pure and in applied science, on the one hand to ensure that problems peculiar to New Zealand are tackled and on the other that methods and materials which have proved successful elsewhere may be profitably adapted as required to local conditions.
In the primary industries non-governmental research was most readily undertaken in the various factories operated by dairy companies and in the twenties a number of laboratories were established, such as that of the New Zealand Cooperative Dairy Company. Many of the problems of primary industry, however, are national rather than local and it was logical therefore to seek economy and efficiency of effort by pooling resources or by seeking governmental assistance or collaboration. Today, the pattern which has emerged is that of small laboratories serving the day-to-day needs of those units, such as the major freezing works, which are large enough to warrant the appointment of scientific staff, and larger laboratories supported on a co-operative basis and usually partly financed through Government subsidy. An exception is the well organised scientific service in the forest-products industries.
In the secondary industries, concentration of manufacture in a physical sense, even on the scale possible in New Zealand, has made it common for established organisations to support their own laboratories, and some of these are quite large, well equipped, and staffed with highly qualified scientists. Examples which come to mind are those of the oil companies and paint manufacturers. Nevertheless, here also joint research is common and provides a simple solution to many individual problems.
A general direction is given to the promotion of research in New Zealand's manufacturing industries through the Manufacturers' Research Committee, set up in 1944, whose members are appointed by the Minister in Charge of Scientific and Industrial Research (six nominated by the New Zealand Manufacturers' Federation and four by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, plus a liaison officer from the Department of Industries and Commerce). This organisation has actively fostered the growth of cooperative research groups. As a result of the stimulus of wartime expansion Cabinet gave approval to the formation of incorporated research associations, financed jointly by industry and by annual grants from Government on the basis of £1 for 1 up to a limit specified for each association, plus £1 for every 2 contributed by industry above the limit. The present minimum for establishing a new research association is £4,500 per annum. The general affairs of the associations are handled by management committees comprising elected representatives of the industry concerned and two or more Government nominees. In many cases these autonomous bodies were built around existing units of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and they have proved well suited to the needs of the country. The following are the several incorporated research associations.