$2m available to unlock curious minds

  • Steven Joyce
Science and Innovation

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced that applications are open for the third round of the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable science fund.

“The Curious Minds fund supports innovative projects aimed at exciting and engaging young people, in particular those who have limited opportunities to get involved with science and technology,” Mr Joyce says. “We need more young people to develop an interest in STEM subjects like science and engineering, to meet the skill needs of our 21st century world.”

Up to $2 million will be awarded for successful projects. The fund was piloted in 2015 and 2016, which funded almost 100 projects through research organisations, iwi, community groups and educational organisations, and businesses around New Zealand. These projects have engaged an estimated 100,000 New Zealanders from all walks of life.

Examples of projects to date include:

  • Landcare Research is introducing students in South Auckland to the microscopic world of house dust and teaching students how to quantify what is in their homes using vacuum cleaners and how to use a standardised sampling protocol.
  • The Otago Central Rail Trail Trust is creating a 100 million to one scale model of our Solar System on the rail trail transforming it into an outdoor classroom.
  • The University of Waikato is working with 7-11 year old students in low decile and/or Kura Kaupapa or full or partial immersion primary schools in the Hamilton region the opportunity to attend after school workshops where they learn about robotics and basic coding.

There are two levels of grants available: up to $30,000 for local projects, and up to $150,000 for regional or national projects. Applications are sought from individuals and organisations.

Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund is an initiative under A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara, the Government’s strategic plan to encourage all New Zealanders to get engaged with science and technology.

“This is an important initiative in building engagement with science for our young people. Successful projects can be sponsored by traditional research organisations, CRIs, communities and individuals,” Mr Joyce says. “I look forward to hearing more about the successful projects.”

More information, including the Call for Proposals and all applications guidance, is available here.

Information on the MBIE Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund is available here.