Message from the Chair

Kia ora koutou

It is some months since you have heard from the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) National Science Challenge. Silence has not meant a lack of activity though. We have been busy getting the Challenge into full operating mode.

Over the last half of 2016 and early 2017 we have:

  1. established a Challenge Directorate led by Ruth Berry,
  2. had six meetings of the Challenge Governance Group,
  3. completed contracting for five of the six Strategic Research Areas (SRAs),
  4. begun our research programme,
  5. re-scoped the Maori housing SRA (now known as “Kainga tahi, kainga rua”) and begun a process whereby researchers and stakeholders co-create proposals that address an RfP for the SRA,
  6. finalised the Challenge contract with MBIE and negotiated a range of Challenge KPIs,
  7. commenced scoping an RfP for a contestable process that will invest around $4.4 million in new research to be completed by July 2019,
  8. booked a venue in Christchurch for the inaugural BBHTC conference (5-6 September) where research teams will report on progress with their research funded by the Challenge, and
  9. initiated an upgrade of the Challenge website to allow us to keep all those interested in the BBHTC NSC well-informed.

We elaborate briefly on each of these developments in this Newsletter. Now that we are fully operational as a Challenge we look forward to re-establishing links and to your on-going engagement with our activities.

Ngā mihi nui
Richard Bedford
May 2017

The Challenge Directorate
The Challenge office has been established at our host BRANZ’s campus at Judgeford, north of Wellington. Office staff include our Director, Ruth Berry, Gillian Benstead, who provides part- time administration support, and Jessica Hutchings, who has joined us to run the Kainga Tahi Kainga Rua and the contestable investment processes; and to work with the Governance Group and our Maori researchers.
Governance Group meetings
The BBHTC Governance Group is meeting bi-monthly and has played a major role in reviewing and approving research contracts for delivering on the Challenge’s Strategic Research Areas. Four of the contracts were signed by December 2016 and a fifth one was finalised in February 2017. The Governance Group decided not to fund the SRA that had been originally scoped to addressed Maori housing issues but rather to seek new proposals that had been co-created by researchers and stakeholders. The re-scoped SRA, “Kāinga tahi, kāinga rua”, is described briefly below.
Contracted SRAs
Research teams, the Governance Group, and the Challenge Directorate have put considerable effort into developing research programmes that align with the challenge vision, mission, and objective and are consistent with the National Science Challenge principles of collaboration and co-creation. The five SRAs approved for funding to date span scales from the local/neighbourhood to the national.
Maori Housing – Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua Investment process
We are currently in the process of investing in our final SRA Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua. The initial investment is focused on solutions for the greater Auckland area. The Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua Strategic Research Area recognises the dual and complex nature of our Maori identities and the many communities we construct our lives in.
Challenge Contract and KPIs
In February we completed sign-off with MBIE on our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and contract conditions for the second Contract Performance Agreement which covers funding through to June 2019. Progress towards meeting KPIs will be assessed across all Challenges by MBIE during 2018.
Contestable Funding Round
The next stage for the challenge research programme is to undertake our contestable process. Through this process we will invest $4.4M in research aligned to the challenge vision, mission, and objectives. The process will be open and will be consistent with the challenge principles of collaboration and co-creation. The Governance Group will finalise the RfP for the contestable process at its meeting on 23 May and the process for developing and submitting proposals will be announced by the end of May. It is anticipated that contracts for approved projects will be signed by the end of September at the latest with funding through to the end of June 2019.

Challenge Conference, Christchurch, 5-6 September

The challenge conference will be held in Christchurch on the 5th and 6th of September 2017. The challenge conference will be the first occasion for all researchers receiving funding from the Challenge to gather together and report on their projects. The conference will also be an opportunity for interaction with members of the Science Leadership Team, the Independent Science Research Panel and the Governance Group. We anticipate that there will be a programme of stakeholder and public participation activities aligned with the conference.
Upgrading the Challenge Website
We have recently completed some technical updates to the website which will enable us to provide updates and resources more easily and frequently. This is a work in progress so you will continue to see changes and enhancements over the next few months. Part of the website process includes moving to an e-newsletter which you can sign up for on the challenge website www.buildingbetter.nz/contact.html