Better Border Biosecurity (B3) and the University of Canterbury (UC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen the relationship between B3 and UC’s Biosecurity Innovations (UCBI) research cluster, enabling them to share expertise, equipment and create opportunities for students interested in biosecurity.
The MOU was signed by B3 Chair Dr James Buwalda and University of Canterbury Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, Professor Ian Wright. UCBI was established in late 2020 and includes more than 20 academics from multiple faculties with an interest in biosecurity. Their expertise spans biological sciences, engineering, wireless communications, mathematics/statistics, psychology, computer science, strategic communications, law, and education.
B3 is a long-standing science collaboration researching ways to reduce the entry and establishment of invasive plant pests, diseases and weeds into Aotearoa New Zealand. B3 integrates investment and expertise from five research organisations – AgResearch, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research, Scion, and Lincoln University– and end-user partners including the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation, and industry.
UCBI Director Dr Steve Pawson says he sees great opportunities to pair academics with domain experts from B3 who have a strong biosecurity focus. “UCBI brings a range of complementary skill sets to biosecurity research, as well as access to equipment, and a strong conduit for student and post-doctoral projects” says Dr Pawson.
UCBI has four themes – identifying and assessing risks; detection technologies; engaging communities; and effective, resilient, collaborative biosecurity system architectures. It also has a focus on growing biosecurity capability, Dr Pawson says. Capability development is becoming more and more a critical issue for biosecurity as Aotearoa New Zealand faces increasing pressure at the border from invasive species. “UCBI aims to train undergraduate and graduate students that have a strong understanding of the biosecurity system for future employment in government, industry and research.”
Dr Teulon says he and Dr Pawson have already identified a range of activities where B3 and UCBI can work effectively together to maximise biosecurity outcomes for Aotearoa New Zealand from their research programmes/projects.