7 May 2020

Vaccine and ventilator projects receive government funding

8:19 am on 7 May 2020

The government has begun allocating $25 million to create products and services that will aid in the fight against Covid-19.

Housing Minister Megan Woods announces the KiwiBuild reset.

Megan Woods. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

So far the Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund has put money towards a new kind of ventilator, a thermal camera screening device, and early vaccine research.

Megan Woods, the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, said the funding will go towards ideas and projects that will reach fruition in six to 12 months.

While $25m might not seem like a lot of money, Woods said it meets a demand from scientists and private companies who have ideas.

*See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

"What became apparent from the very first day was that a lot of our really clever scientists, researchers, and companies had great ideas and came to us saying that had things that needed only a few hundred thousand dollars."

She said there is "some tracking stuff" that is part of the funding, including small scale things like workplace tracking.

One project is exploring the manufacturing of a new kind of ventilator that would be much cheaper than current options. Woods said that opens up an export opportunity.

"It could be, and we certainly hope it will be... the ventilators we're looking at will be at incredibly lower cost to produce so we're thinking about what benefit they may have to our Pacific neighbours as well."

One project within the fund which is looking at a vaccine has received $100,000 from the government. She says that's an initial funding for the group.

"This isn't all the funding that we'll expect to see for vaccine work, this is just making sure there was some access for the researchers to get on it in the next few weeks."

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs