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Unlocking Curious Minds Contestable Fund

The Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund supports innovative projects that will excite and engage New Zealanders, particularly young people (aged 18 years and under), 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.

The 2016 investment round is now closed.


Funded Projects

The Minister of Science and Innovation announced 44 innovative projects were successful in receiving a total of $2 million in the 2016 investment round on 11 May 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. You can read more about the successful projects in 2015, and 2016 below:


News stories

Read about some of the projects on our news site:


2016 Investment Round Documents

Below are the documents used in the 2016 investment round of the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund:


How does it fit into ‘A Nation of Curious Minds’?

UCM 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.