Media Releases

$65.2m in Marsden funding for NZ researchers

Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 09:57
Science and Innovation

New Zealand’s top researchers have been awarded $65.2 million in Marsden Fund grants in the 2016 funding round, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

The $65.2 million allocation is the largest single funding round in the history of the Marsden Fund. 117 successful proposals will be funded over the next three years and they include a diverse range of topics from vaccine delivery, to youth justice, to the marine carbon cycle. 

The Marsden Fund supports excellence in science, engineering, maths, social sciences and humanities by providing grants for investigator-initiated research. It is highly sought after by New Zealand scientists.

“A successful science system needs the right balance of investigator-led research, applied research, and business research and development,” Mr Joyce says. “The Marsden is our pre-eminent investigator-led research fund and is a crucial contributor to building an innovation-led economy and society.”

“Marsden Fund grants are awarded to some of our leading researchers. The Fund helps focus our science system on achieving excellence and impact, and it is an important element in promoting New Zealand as a destination for top scientists and R&D investment.

The Government has set aside $66 million over the next four years for growing the Marsden Fund as part of Budget 2016. This will increase the annual amount available for the Marsden Fund by 49 per cent over four years, growing it to $79.8 million in 2019/20.

The overall success rate for applicants is 10.7 per cent this year, compared with 7.7 per cent last year and 8.3 per cent the year before that. This increase reflects the immediate use of the $6 million provided in the 2016-17 financial year resulting from the Budget 2016 announcement.

Approved projects include:

  • Mum, you are what your babies make you! (Professor LW Chamley, The University of Auckland). This research investigates whether foetal DNA might be introduced permanently into maternal cells during pregnancy.  It further aims to discover whether that foetal DNA could be permanently taken up by some of the mother’s cells and cause some mothers to develop, or be protected from, diseases in later life.
  • Children's understanding of shared knowledge and its importance for effective communication. (Dr A Martin, Victoria University of Wellington) Effective communication is essential to social interaction. This research will provide insight into the early development of communication skills in children, and provide practical strategies to improve communication with others who have similar or different backgrounds.
  • Active submarine landslides ride on gas pockets (Dr GJ Crutchley and Dr JJ Mountjoy, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd).  Submarine landslides have generated the largest tsunami on Earth. This research will use 3D seismic data and seafloor drilling samples to analyse landslides offshore of New Zealand to assess how the seafloor responds to gas pressure and earthquake shaking, with a view to determine their tsunami hazard potential.

Proposals are evaluated by independent assessment panels and the final recommendations for funding are made by the Marsden Fund Council, which is chaired by Professor Juliet Gerrard.

The grants are split into two categories. The Fast-Start awards are designed to create research momentum for early-career researchers and are worth up to $300,000 over three years. Standard awards apply to all applicants and can be worth as much as $850,000 over a three-year period.

The Marsden Fund is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

More information is available here, and in Te Reo Māori here.