Following B3’s Collaboration Council (CC) meeting in Wellington at the end of 2019, Chair James Buwalda said while the scope of B3 remains relevant and appropriate, changes need to be made in three key areas to update the strategy.

Dr Buwalda says the three focus areas will be:

1. Aligning the B3 research programme with the Government’s new Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF) priorities. B3 has traditionally been funded by CRI core funding but it will now need to identify more specific opportunities to link with SSIF funding platforms from which CRIs are providing funding for B3.

2. A demonstrated commitment to partnership with Māori within the B3 research agenda. This work will require guidance from senior Maori leadership from each of the collaboration parties.

3. Changing the number of priority areas in which B3 works and better horizontal and vertical connections with other New Zealand biosecurity science providers to reduce fragmentation, improved coordination and science uptake.

A decision by the CC to focus on these three substantive changes within the new strategy was informed by the discussions and outcomes from a facilitated day-long workshop on 3 December, 2019 that included science representatives from the collaboration parties, end users and industry partners.

“This meeting was a great opportunity to hear from everyone across the plant biosecurity research spectrum, end users and industry, and while it gave us confidence we are on the right track, it also highlighted areas where things can and must change,” he said.

“We want to give the CEOs of the CRIs funding B3 confidence that we are sensitive to their needs within the new SSIF funding landscape and that our research aligns to their respective SSIF platforms,” he added.

Dr Buwalda said the last B3 strategy refresh took place in 2016 and that work is now well underway to complete the new B3 strategy with a view to having it operational within the next year.  The new strategy will be able to be promoted as a timely response to the International Year of Plant Health in 2020.

“This does not mean the current B3 work will stop as it can continue while we roll out the new strategy,” he said.

B3 aims to deliver substantial and measurable science-based solutions to reduce the rate of establishment of high-impact, damaging and unwanted pests, diseases and weeds threatening New Zealand’s productive and natural plant systems.

B3 provides a single point of access to the New Zealand science system for plant biosecurity research.