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Research priorities

The Health Research Council (HRC) is leading the national prioritisation process to ensure that taxpayer dollars support innovative, impactful and life-saving research, as a result of more coordinated and connected health research efforts across the country.

What guides our investment decisions?

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Health Research Prioritisation Framework
The HRC is the agency charged with consulting broadly to establish priorities for health research, through the HRC Act 1990. Recently, we've been working with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to formulate a framework for prioritising and guiding research efforts from now through to 2027.

The New Zealand Health Research Prioritisation Framework will guide all research undertaken in New Zealand, to ensure research efforts are cohesive and of greater benefit to New Zealanders. For more on this, refer to our page for Setting national research priorities

New Zealand Health Research Strategy
The Prioritisation Framework is underpinned by the principles and objectives of the New Zealand Health Research Strategy 2017-2027 (NZHRS). The Strategy aims to increase the impact of government investment in health research, ultimately creating a world-leading health research and innovation system that improves the lives of all New Zealanders. It stipulates that all investment decisions are guided by four principles: excellence, transparency, partnership with Māori, and collaboration.

Strategic Priorities and Actions are divided between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the HRC, with each agency leading its actions with the full support of the other two. The four strategic priorities are:

  1. Investing in excellent research that addresses the health needs of New Zealanders
  2. Creating a vibrant research environment in the health sector
  3. Building and strengthening pathways for translating research findings into policy and practice
  4. Advancing innovative ideas and commercial opportunities.

The HRC is leading Strategic Priority 1, with four attendant actions:

  • Prioritise investments through an inclusive priority-setting process.
  • Invest in research for healthy futures for Māori
  • Invest in research that results in equitable health outcomes for Pacific peoples and helps them to lead independent lives
  • Develop and sustain a strong health research workforce.

Summary of strategic objectives
In keeping with the above objectives, some of the key drivers behind the Health Research Council's investment decisions include:

  • Ensuring investment is meeting areas of greatest national need
  • Achieving health equity for all population groups
  • Funding research with high potential for impact in the health sector and for the better health and wellbeing of New Zealanders
  • Supporting innovative and transformative research
  • Strengthening the research workforce, identifying and addressing gaps in capacity, and creating career opportunities
  • Identifying and supporting health research with potential for commercial outcomes and facilitating connections between these research projects and commercialisation specialists.
  • Increasing opportunities for New Zealand researchers to engage with large international collaborations
  • Strengthening networks between researchers and service providers to speed the translation of research into practice. 

For all funding opportunities, head to HRC Gateway.