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New centre launched to create data tech platforms and retain young NZers

26 Jul 2016

They call it the ‘brain drain’, where talented young New Zealanders leave our shores to seek better prospects elsewhere. A new initiative has been launched to plug the flow.

Recently launched at AUT University, the INTERACT Centre of Technology Excellence aims to create a quantum leap forward in the ability for New Zealand to be a leading  developer of data technologies and to retain IT and data science graduates in local industries.

INTERACT will operate as a highly-networked industry-linked organisation, with a key aim of addressing the questions around large scale streaming big data processing and analytics.

AUT’s Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation, Professor John Raine affirms that there will be significant economic impact through new technologies, together with related application domains in Smart City Transportation, Predictive Analytics in Social Services, Precision Medicine, Environmental Surveying, Disaster Management & Prediction, Precision Agriculture and Autonomous Vehicles. What’s more, social and economic benefits will also follow through optimisation in health and social services and predictive health analysis.

“INTERACT will significantly increase New Zealand’s engagement in data-intensive R&D, an area where we have lagged internationally, but which offers the opportunity for advanced technology development and potential spin-off industry benefits,” Professor Raine says.

Current projects at AUT that will be part of INTERACT include:

  • The use of neural computing in predicting earthquakes and the matching of therapeutic drug regimens to the individual person’s genetic make-up
  • Using drones to make and analyse 3-D maps of plant species in the wild
  • Working with sensor networks, cameras and data analytics to make driverless cars safer
  • To create predictive models that support social services intervention decisions around families at risk.

The collaborative framework behind INTERACT will generate a number of PHD graduates, with the aim to retain them in New Zealand with exciting research and industry opportunities. Furthermore, INTERACT will seek to attract talent through postdoctoral fellowships and grow industry capabilities through close interaction with New Zealand companies.

As a nationally collaborative organisation, INTERACT is being hosted by AUT with key research partners including the University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, Massey University and the University of Waikato, together with Callaghan Innovation and Opus International Consultants.

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