Research funding – spoilt for choice?

October 2015


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Tertiary sector research manager STEPHEN COX understands the difficulties that universities and institutes of technology face in finding appropriate external research funding opportunities. 


research fundingThe success rates for the major funding rounds in New Zealand can be very daunting, especially for research teams trying to establish themselves.
There are, though, a myriad of research funding opportunities out there and it’s important for researchers to be able to sight the whole range of research funding opportunities at one go.

Being aware of the variety of research funding and accessing funds that are less competitive and easier to apply for could offer a way forward for researchers eager to get early “runs on the board”.

A small amount of funding can provide additional resources to initiate a research programme and gain momentum.

It can be difficult to know how to access these funding opportunities. Research funding databases that allow researchers to search through the research funding opportunities available to them are useful. But which to use? From huge international databases to more bespoke sources, researchers need to navigate their way through the possibilities.

Pivot is an example of a large global database with access to 32,000 funding opportunities from 89 countries. The funding is worth an estimated 33 billion dollars, although some funding is limited to specific countries or research fields.

However, researchers in New Zealand may find international forums like this rather too vast, particularly if they are on the lookout for more obscure and less obvious research funding opportunities.

Recently launched database Research Maximum ( is a good example of a site that allows researchers to do just this. Specifically designed for
New Zealand universities, polytechnics and institutes of technology (ITPs), the site organises over 320 research funding opportunities into six different categories: Fellowships and Awards, Research and Innovation Support, Research and Innovation Grants, Venture Capital, Travel and Conference, and International Research Funds. The site collates a range of information on the available funds, such as an overview of the fund, the fund’s website that gives access to the relevant forms and the closing date. It is updated fortnightly and provides information on newly released research funds as they are announced.

Researchers can search for funds by category. For example, a search under ‘Travel and Conference Funding’ reveals over 20 funding opportunities to attend conferences and travel. They can also look for funds in a particular PBRF (Performance-Based Research Fund) Panel. The Māori Knowledge and Development Panel, for example, comes up with over 25 possible research funding opportunities for researchers wanting to improve their PBRF portfolio by securing external funding for their research. Researchers can also pinpoint a particular funding scheme through an advanced key word search.

Research funding in New Zealand has a reputation for being somewhat scarce, however there are ample opportunities out there to support researchers with their work – it is just a case of knowing where to look.

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