A major refresh of B3 research was undertaken between August 2016 and June 2017 building upon the numerous achievements of B3 over the last 10 years. The refresh was based on the new B3 Strategy (developed in 2016) and stakeholder’s priorities, and consisted of a two stage process of project Concepts and followed by the development of Full Proposals. Despite key meetings being interrupted by earthquakes, fog and biosecurity incursions, a strong suite of research projects targeting significant biosecurity outcomes has been developed.
Principles of co-innovation with stakeholders were paramount throughout the process from Concept initiation through to the signoff of targeted outcomes. Critical review and selection of Project Concepts and Full Proposals was overseen by a Science Advisory Group (SAG). The SAG was selected from within each of the B3 partner organisations with reference to their ability to reflect on scientific rigour and stretch, their seniority within their respective organisations and their independence from the research groups. Projects were assessed with respect to (1) B3 strategy, (2) science quality, (3) ability to deliver and (4) likelihood of biosecurity outcome.
The SAG also considered a range of balance factors including the breath of organisms targeted (i.e. invertebrates, pathogens and weeds), productive and natural plant systems, new science capability and leadership, new science approaches, high and low risk science, and social and cultural engagement. The SAG provided a recommendation for a new suite of research projects to the B3 Collaboration Council (CC) in June 2017. Their recommendation was largely accepted.
The Operational Refresh resulted in a 10% increase in investment from the B3 CRI partners with 28 new projects (see below) spanning the border biosecurity continuum of risk assessment (both intentional and unintentional introductions), pathway risk management, diagnostics, surveillance and eradication and response.
Several new areas of research have been initiated including projects targeting biosecurity outcomes related to tourism, engagement with iwi and weed incursions. New capability, new research teams, new research approaches and new collaborations, including those outside the current B3 partners, have also been embraced. At least 10 graduate students are included in projects to strengthen future capability requirements for New Zealand’s biosecurity system. Time-lines for projects now include completion dates for 2, 3, 4 and 5 years providing much greater flexibility for future changes in priorities.
B3 is aligned to the Biological Heritage Science Challenge (BHNSC) with several B3 projects exploring synergies with BHNSC projects. Similarly, opportunities to integrate further with the members of Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Readiness and Response are being explored.
B3 Director, David Teulon say “its great to get beyond the process of developing new projects and get onto the real business of undertaking research to support New Zealand’s biosecurity system”.
B3 Chair, James Buwalda said ‘With unrelenting biosecurity pressures, it’s vital that the B3 research programme is refreshed regularly to ensure priorities are relevant to end-user needs and projects are based on high-quality science. This operational refresh will drive further value for New Zealand from the research investment being made by the B3 collaborating parties.’