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Call for Kiwi companies to recruit interns into R&D projects

13 May 2019
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‘Hundreds’ of New Zealand companies have the chance to recruit new skills and fresh thinking into their businesses, thanks to fully-funded research and development (R&D) internships from Callaghan Innovation.

Callaghan Innovation has opened applications for its R&D Experience Grants, which are able to fund 10-week internships with undergraduate and postgraduate students.

According to Callaghan Innovation market and sectors Erica Lloyd, the grants allow companies to boost R&D capacity and gain new ideas that can boost innovation.

“Investing in R&D is a critical catalyst for growth and innovation, and these internships are a practical way to initiate or advance research projects that can translate to real gains in the future,” says Lloyd.

In the 2018/2019 funding round, more than 600 student internships were granted around the country. 

Rocketspark, which builds websites, is one company that secured a number of grants last year. Two of its interns were studying software engineering, and one of those students went on to join Rocketspark’s development team part time.

According to director Grant Johnson, “It was a really beneficial process and we’re excited by the outcome of what they’ve produced.” 

“They were smart students and in their ten weeks with us they created a prototype of a tool that will help small business owners with their search engine optimisation. There’s still a way to go to get it into a commercial project, but the Experience Grant was a really valuable kick-start to a project with high potential and provided the impetus to do some challenging research,” says Johnson.

He adds that the interns spoke about how the project helped to identify the areas of R&D they enjoyed. The experience will help to focus them on their studies and possible career choices.

Serko is another company that took on interns as part of the grants programme. The company’s head of engineering, Martin Cronje, says the internships brought smart, enthusiastic people into R&D. 

“We are bringing some of these interns on full-time because of their eagerness and the fresh perspective they offer,” says Cronje.

The interns say they gained hands-on practical experience, an opportunity to better understand the industry and their role in it, and a chance to work on real-world projects.
 
“We were well supported but we had lots of autonomy in how we approached the work. It was challenging, but it was an incredible opportunity to learn in a great environment.”

Applications for the Callaghan Innovation R&D Experience Grants are open until 31 August 2019.