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Investment objectives

The Health Research Council drives and supports innovative, impactful, life-saving research as part of a coordinated and collective effort by the health and science sectors to improve health outcomes. 

What guides our investment decisions?

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Across all areas of our work, which includes investing in People, Ideas and Priorities, the HRC is guided by sector-wide goals and objectives and ministerial expectations. We aim to ensure that taxpayer dollars support innovative health research that maximises benefits for New Zealanders.

New Zealand Health Research Strategy

The New Zealand Health Research Strategy 2017-2027 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 (MBIE) 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.

New Zealand Health Research Prioritisation Framework

The New Zealand Health Research Prioritisation Framework outlines the high-level priorities for health research in New Zealand and provides enduring strategic signals that guide the HRC's investment decisions. The framework consists of four 'health research domains' made up of research and infrastructure aims that have been identified as areas of critical inquiry or investment need. It also sets five 'health research attributes' intended to guide the way research is designed, conducted and funded, to help ensure research efforts are cohesive and add the greatest value to New Zealanders. To read this, head to our Resource Library

The HRC’s strategic intentions

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

Fostering excellence and innovation:

  • Supporting innovative and transformative research that generates new knowledge and fuels discoveries, with both shorter-term impact and a longer line-of-sight to health gains.
  • Supporting research with high potential for improving health systems and health outcomes. 
  • Engaging health professionals in research activity. 
  • Supporting unique contributions to the strategic priorities of New Zealand, and growing the capability and expertise required to address complex health challenges.

Connecting for greater impact:

  • Creating opportunities for collaboration and for early career researchers to work with senior counterparts. 
  • Increasing opportunities for New Zealand researchers to engage with international counterparts.
  • Prioritising 'impact' and the need to connect research with the next users and end-users of research. 
  • Strengthening networks between researchers and service providers to speed the translation of research into practice. 

Strengthening the health research ecosystem:

  • Strengthening New Zealand’s research workforce, identifying and addressing gaps in capacity, and creating career opportunities.
  • Supporting a health and disability system that is evidence-based and prioritises effective care, learning, and continuous improvement.  
  • Addressing priority health issues in a cohesive way that reduces waste and duplication of research efforts.

Advancing Māori health:

  • Identifying and funding research with strong potential to improve health outcomes for Māori, with benefit for individuals, whānau and communities in the most meaningful and direct way. 
  • Addressing areas of greatest national need, and ensuring our funding opportunities are accessible. 
  • Supporting research participation at a grassroots level as well as in institutional and clinical settings.  

For all funding opportunities, head to HRC Gateway.