Tasmanian Science and Research Pushing the Boundaries Again Sat 16 June 2012 David O'Byrne Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology Tasmania has performed well in securing grants under the Australian Government's Unlocking Australia's Potential program. $5 million has been awarded nationally under the grants program, in an announcement by the Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans. More than $400,000 was awarded to five Tasmanian-based projects. The Tasmanian Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology, David O'Byrne, said Tasmania is a strong supporter of the Federal Government's Inspiring Australia strategy. "The Tasmanian Government partners with the University of Tasmania on several projects to boost science involvement and literacy in our community," Mr O'Byrne said. "As a small state with an export-based economy, we need to be innovative and focus on quality to compete effectively in the marketplace. Science and technology are key drivers of that innovation. "The sector is recognised as a key priority in the Government's Economic Development Plan, which helps local businesses play to Tasmania's strengths, find new markets, and create the jobs of tomorrow. "Programs like Unlocking Australia's Potentialcomplement our vision for this industry very well, and our science and research community has again punched well about its weight by securing almost 10 per cent of the funding on offer. "I congratulate all of the Tasmanians and local groups that took the time to apply," he said. A total of 63 projects were funded across Australia. Many of them will also indirectly involve Tasmanian communities. The Tasmanian projects funded are: · Eyes-on-the-water, $300,000, University of Tasmania - this REDMAP (www.redmap.org.au) initiative maps the distribution of sea fish and marine creatures around the state relying on fishers and divers reporting on the species they encounter. The project funding will be used to expand the map to take in Australia's entire coastline. · Exploring, understanding and appreciating Tasmanian marine natural values, $45,000, University of Tasmania - this project will increase awareness of Tasmania's unique marine environments with a state-wide program of activity designed to impart knowledge of local marine research via tours of Tasmanian marine environments. · Plant hunter…treasure hunter! $44,960, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) - A collaborative project led by the RTBG to raise community awareness of the importance of plants and biodiversity. The community 'Plant Hunters' will be encouraged to learn about botany through the on-site materials and online interactive elements which allow participants to further engage with the RTBG on Tasmanian habitats. · The Dream of the Thylacine, $44,880, Erth Visual & Physical Inc. - A live show for children and families based on the thylacine. The shows will use animated life-sized custom-made puppets, detailed narration incorporating myth and fact, projected images and live footage. The show will feature at the 2013 Ten Days on the Island festival, at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) in Hobart and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) in Launceston, and national and international touring in museums. · Aboriginal discovery science at Risdon Cove, $5,000, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre - The program seeks to engage Aboriginal youth and the wider Risdon Cove community in a scientific and cultural appreciation of local geographical features, as relayed through video and podcasts by Aboriginal elders. The main objective of the Unlocking Australia's Potential program is to increase Australians' engagement in science. It's prioritised projects that engage people who may not have previously been involved in science-communication activities. The Federal Government's Inspiring Australia strategy aims to build a strong and open relationship between science and society, and promote the benefits of science. The initiative is supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, in partnership with the University of Tasmania and Tasmanian Government.