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16 June 2014

Four of New Zealand’s independent research organisations will receive a combined total of more than $27 million in funding through a new initiative that aims to ensure that research, science and technology of national significance is not lost.

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) today announced funding for the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research ($14.2 million), the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand ($6.8 million), Te Atawhai o te Ao: Independent Māori Institute for Environment and Health ($3.8 million) and Whakauae Research Services Limited ($2.8 million) as part of a new Capability in Independent Research Organisations Fund.

This initiative, which comes out of the HRC’s existing budget, provides long-term funding of up to seven years for research organisations outside of the Crown Research Institute sector. In the first instance, funding for four years is provided.

To be eligible for this fund, these independent research organisations needed to have the capacity to undertake research, science and technology, and related activities in a field that is not commonly present in other New Zealand research organisations. These activities also had to be ‘nationally significant’, meaning that if the ability to undertake these activities was lost, it would have a demonstrable and significant negative impact on the ability to grow the economy, or to achieve key environmental, societal and health outcomes for New Zealanders.

The HRC’s Board Chair, Sir Robert Stewart, KNZM, said the aim of the fund is to support nationally significant capability in independent research organisations that “has the potential to contribute to major economic, social, or environmental benefits for New Zealand; or mitigate major risks to New Zealand’s economy, environment or society”.

“This new funding initiative will give these organisations greater stability over a longer period of time, ensuring that they can continue to employ some of our best and brightest to carry out research of the highest calibre,” says Sir Robert.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has run its own process for investing in science capability funding in independent research organisations.

2014 Independent Research Organisations Capability Fund recipients

Malaghan Institute of Medical Research
First named investigator: Professor Graham Le Gros, CNZM
$14,244,000 for the first four years

Medical Research Institute of New Zealand
First named investigator: Professor Richard Beasley
$6,804,000 for the first four years

Te Atawhai o te Ao: Independent Māori Institute for Environment and Health
First named investigator: Dr Paul Reynolds
$3,784,000 for the first four years

Whakauae Research Services Limited
First named investigator: Dr Heather Gifford
$2,800,000 for the first four years

Background
In 2011, as part of decisions on Crown Research Institute Core Funding, the Government decided that long-term funding arrangements of up to seven years will be available to research organisations outside of the Crown Research Institute sector that hold significant research capabilities supporting national outcomes in areas of government priority. The HRC has responded to this requirement through the development of the Capability in Independent Research Organisations Fund.

* To be eligible to receive a Capability in Independent Research Organisations Fund contract, an organisation must:

1) Be an independent research organisation, meaning an organisation that:
    a) is not a Crown entity (as defined in section 7 of the Crown Entities Act 2004)
    b) operates as an independent legal entity and is not owned, or primarily funded by a Crown Entity or a business, and
    c) primarily undertakes research, science and technology, or related activities that are not for the development of its own products and services.

2) Have staff and infrastructure of a sufficient scale and capacity to carry out the work proposed

3) Have demonstrated linkages with end users of the research, science and technology, or related activities, which may include industry users or the public sector

4) Have received Vote Science and Innovation funding of at least $0.5 million per annum for more than one contestable funding round. (Note: to be eligible, an Independent Research Organisation must directly receive funding through the HRC, not as a subcontracting organisation).