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Unlocking Curious Minds fund

The Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund supports innovative projects that will excite and engage New Zealanders who have fewer opportunities to be involved with science and technology.

The objective of the fund is to support projects that use innovative and/or best-practice approaches to provide New Zealanders with more opportunities to learn about and engage with science and technology by:

  • funding education and community outreach initiatives that focus on science and technology
  • broadening participants’ ability to engage with science and technology
  • promoting the relevance of science and technology in their lives, and
  • supporting them to engage in societal debate about science and technology issues facing the country.

The fund offers two levels of grant: up to $30,000 for local projects, and up to $150,000 for regional or national projects. Applications can be made by individuals and/or organisations depending on the type of grants.

Funding is allocated to successful applicants through a contestable funding process.

2017 Investment Round 

$2 million from the 2017 Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund has been awarded to 41 projects aimed at engaging young people in science. Funded projects will be led by a wide variety of organisations including primary schools, tertiary education organisations, Crown Research Institutes, museums, trusts, and companies.

List of successful projects [PDF 236 KB]

Related information

Read the call for proposals [PDF 721 KB]

Frequently asked questions

View the funding agreement template

Surveying guidelines

Brand guidelines

Curious Minds logo kit [ZIP 16 MB]

Assessment panel guidelines

Assessment panel membership

National Strategic Plan for Science in Society

National Statement of Science Investment

If you have any questions, please email

Previously funded projects

In total almost 100 projects have been funded 53 in 2015 and 44 in 2016. The projects include sustainable housing design for Year 10 students in Christchurch, using visual arts and music to engage kids in climate change science, and providing youth with opportunities to experience STEM careers in Dunedin.

Read more about the funded projects in 2015 and 2016:


Read about a few of the projects on our stories page:

How does it fit into 'A Nation of Curious Minds'?

Unlocking Curious Minds is an initiative under the Government’s national strategic plan for Science in Society, A Nation of Curious Minds - He Whenua Hihiri I Te Mahara , launched in July 2014.

The strategic plan was developed in response to the National Science Challenges Panel’s leadership challenge to improve the understanding, skills and adoption of science and technology in New Zealand.