Funding is available for Taranaki businesses who want a student intern to undertake research and development projects.
Funding is available for Taranaki businesses to employ postgraduate and/or undergraduate students with science, technology, engineering, commercialisation, design or business degrees. The programmes, supported by Callaghan Innovation and facilitated in the region by Venture Taranaki, are a great opportunity for Taranaki businesses to gain a student to work on research and development (R&D) projects that they may have otherwise been unable to find the time and resources to complete.
The funding aims to give our future innovators commercial, real-world experience, while helping local businesses connect with our universities and gain momentum on valuable R&D projects.
The R&D project must relate to the student’s field of study and allow them to build knowledge in a practical environment.
Two types of interns are available - R&D Experience, previously known as summer Interns and R&D Career, interns with Postgraduate qualifications.
R&D Experience interns are yet to graduate from a Bachelor’s degree or postgraduate qualifications. Funding is for up to 400 hours (based on $16 per hour) over a 3-month period during their summer break. Funding applications are invited in June each year.
These Postgraduate interns have graduated, or are about to graduate, with a Masters or PhD qualification and can undertake a 1-year internship. Grant funding is available based on a salary of $60,000 pa, with funding of up to $30,000 (plus GST) to cover the salary of the postgraduate for the first six months. Funding applications are invited in July each year.
Read some success stories of past student grant recipients below, or contact Venture Taranaki Business Advisor Rachael Berndt on 06 757 6052 or email R&D@venture.org.nz to find out how your business could benefit from the Student Grant Scheme.
Robin Barker-Gilbert and Stepping Stones Nursery
Massey University final year Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Horticulture) student Robin Barker-Gilbert returned to his home province of Taranaki in January of this year. His first job was a Callaghan-funded summer internship project at Stepping Stones Nursery Ltd.
Stepping Stones is the largest exporter of ornamental trees in NZ and is recognised internationally for its premier quality stock. Robin’s project focused on fine tuning propagation techniques. He identified improvements to current practices that will benefit the quality of the export product.
Robin says that he can’t imagine a better opportunity for a student preparing for the workforce than an applied research project such as the one he did. Elliot Groves, CEO, says that “as an export tree nursery, having someone with Robin’s skills and motivation work on a specific aspect of our production proved to be a worthwhile experience and one that we are keen to repeat. Normally we don’t have time to give projects due diligence and we found this a great way to address this.”
Lisa Hamilton and Mineral Systems
Fourth-year Bachelor of Veterinary Technology student Lisa Hamilton learned a lot about farming practices during her summer internship with Mineral Systems.
Lisa visited 14 farms throughout New Zealand, collecting data on dairy herd production and reproductive health, then ran a statistical analysis and wrote a final report on her findings.
Mineral Systems spokesperson Cynthia Northcote says her company is pleased with how the project went and with the outcome being a professional report of a very high standard which provides focus for further research and technological developments to enhance the performance of the industry.
Lisa says that “It was a great experience getting to travel to different parts of NZ, and to visit and talk to farmers who had an abundance of knowledge to share with me. Being a part of this project was an amazing experience, and the skills and knowledge I gained from it are very valuable.”
Chris van Tiel and Dow Agro Sciences
Chris van Tiel, a 3rd year student of chemical engineering and nanotechnology at Massey put his chemistry knowledge to the test at Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Limited in New Plymouth during a summer internship there.
He conducted studies on one of the company’s new products, the results of which are being documented in an internal peer reviewed database and are being considered for external publication.
Chris says that working at Dow gave him insights into how chemistry is actually used in industry. While here he also climbed Mount Taranaki, tried surfing, joined the Dow surf casting and touch teams, and “made a lot of friends in Taranaki and at Dow who [he]’ll keep in contact with.”
Dow spokesperson Cheryl Cathie says “the internship allowed us to complete a series of studies that provided valuable information for us which will be instrumental in submitting stable formulations for the concepts tested and also generation II concepts in the future.”
Morgan Vine and Taranaki Bio Extracts
Optimising beef bone extract production by refining the extraction process was the focus of a summer internship for final year Massey engineering student Morgan Vine, who worked at one of Taranaki Bio Extracts’ three plants near Hawera.
The outcome was a process adjustment that allows for consistently better extraction per kilogram of raw material.
Mike North, Morgan’s supervisor, says “Morgan played a valuable role in the overall development of the team he worked within and we are happy to have identified ways to improve the efficiency of our extraction process. We also
found that the summer internship was a great way to support a student and give them practical work experience.”
Morgan says he was able to apply his knowledge of theory and design in relation to liquid processing and extraction processes. “It was great to get the industry experience, from the perspective of health and safety too, as well as familiarity with a lot of different equipment.”
Nick Ramsay and ITL
Canterbury University engineering graduate Nick Ramsay spent the summer in Taranaki figuring out how to turn effluent waste into biogas.
The three-month internship was based on a feasibility study on the transfer of effluent waste into biogas for Taranaki company ITL, and saw Nick gain valuable experience in every stage of the project; from idea to technology development to market integration.
“In an academic environment we are technically minded, but working in the real world stretched my knowledge. I also had to consider project costs and target market,” says Nick.
Once the project was completed, Nick had to make a judgment call on the feasibility of the project, and present a written report on his findings to ITL. In the end, the project was not deemed feasible, due to market size being insufficient to sustain the research and development spend.
“The challenge was for me to think of ITL’s interests rather than how innovative the idea was. It was a fantastic introduction to commercial realities of business,” Nick says.
Upon completing his internship, Nick was offered a permanent position with ITL, completing design work for a range of clients, and is involved in ongoing R&D projects.
Leo Allom and Methanex
Massey University Engineering 3rd year (Mechatronics) student Leo Allom worked on a summer internship for Methanex developing ‘Minimole’, an outlet tube measurement device.
The project enabled him to transfer his mechatronics (a multidisciplinary field that includes mechanical, electrical, telecommunications and computer engineering) knowledge and skills to a real-world project and Leo reflects that “there are huge academic and real world benefits from doing an internship for an international company like Methanex”. He also says the internship was a fantastic learning as well as a social and networking opportunity.
Peter Tait, a global expert in static equipment at Methanex says “Without exception, the annual interns bring enthusiasm and fresh ideas to Methanex, We are able to give them projects, such as Leo’s, that are not routine and are a bit experimental. There is scope for their new ideas and in Leo’s case the opportunity for him to incorporate them into a completed device as his 4th year project.”
Other funding available is:
Download a printable R&D Student Grants flier