2021 Kaupapa kākano Seed project fund

12 November 2020 | Read time: 8 minutes

Hero image for news page SfTI Seed Project Fund Campaign Web Banners Dr Angelique Greene

Applications for our last round of Seed Project Funding closed 12 noon Friday the 18th of June 2021. Each successful application will receive up to $200,000 for up to two years, with about 15 new Seed projects from 1 October 2021.

This year we are prioritising applications that create cutting-edge technology using mātauranga Māori and with strong Māori leadership. And from Early Career Researchers (ECRs), exploring complex and risky ideas across our technical research themes. 

Our focus is to support those researchers most impacted by Covid-19, whilst encouraging more applications from women, Māori and Pacific researchers.

More information on eligibility, and the application process be found on this page, and within our Call for Proposals 2021 document:


We welcome project proposals from researchers at New Zealand based organisations, with research capability relevant to SfTI’s research themes: Vision Mātauranga; Sensors, Robotics and Automation; Data Science and Digital Technologies; and Materials, Manufacturing Technology and Design.

  • To claim Vision Mātauranga theme alignment, the research proposal must have tangible Māori participation and/or leadership, and align with least one of the other SfTI  themes – proposing research with cutting-edge technology using mātauranga Māori.
  • All ECRs are eligible even if they have been previously funded by or are currently funded by us.

More information can be found with the CfP document.

Our 2021 Seed fund priorities 

Early Career Researchers

In the 2021 round, the main priority is to support Early Career Researchers (ECRs), particularly those impacted by Covid-19, whilst encouraging more applications from women, Māori and Pacific researchers. Proposals that are led by an ECR with a full team of ECRs will receive high priority. At least 55% of total funding will be committed to projects that meet the ECR priority. Find out what SfTI considers an ECR.

Vision Mātauranga

Projects with strong Vision Mātauranga (VM) alignment will also receive higher prioritisation. VM projects must have sufficient Māori participation and involvement in the development and execution of the project for consideration under the VM priority. At least 25% of total funding will be targeted to projects that support Vision Mātauranga objectives.

More information for VM proposal submissions:

  • See section titled 'Vision Mātauranga Guide', in the CfP for more information about the VM assessment criteria and scoring system, and;
  • The Vision Mātauranga FAQs.

Capacity and capability of Māori in the technology and engineering space are a key area that we are dedicated to supporting. While we strongly encourage projects that are Māori-led, we acknowledge the under-representation of Māori in physical sciences and engineering. To improve representation, SfTI encourages collaboration and co-creation between researchers in the field and upcoming Māori researchers, Māori communities and organisations.

Project proposal guidelines

The project proposal must demonstrate the following aspects:

  • Stretch science (clever, risky, complex), and/or address a potentially disruptive technology area.
  • Focus on physical sciences and engineering research aspects although the context of the project may be in another field e.g. health, biological sciences, food processing or business. 
  • Make a strong case for the Aotearoa context and niche, and if successful, a contribution to Aotearoa’s future economic growth.

How to apply

Applications are made through the IMS portal. You will need an account to login, if you do not have an account, please refer to your institution’s Research Office, they can set one up for you, as well as manage your proposal submission.

Contact information

  • For questions and/or feedback on the CfP and PDG eligibility, criteria or process: SfTIchallenge@callaghaninnovation 
  • For theme alignment questions in relation to your prospective Seed project research proposal submission, contact the relevant SfTI research Theme leader. 

Contact your Research Office

For help and support to develop and submit a Seed project proposal; and if you intend to apply for a Seed Proposal Development Grant, contact your institution’s Research Office. 

Note: If you are not based at an academic institution and do not have access to a Research Office, please seek support and guidance from within your organisation and network, as required.

Key dates 

  • 2021 CfP released, and Grant applications open – mid November 2020
  • National webinars with Q&A session –  27 November 2020, 10-11am /
    5 February 2021, 2-3pm / 30 April 2021, 2-3pm
  • Applications for Proposal Development Grants (PDGs) close – 26 February 2021
  • Successful and unsuccessful PDG applicants are notified – 26 March 2021
  • Technical Assessment Panel membership announced – 31 March 2021
  • IMS Portal opens for proposal submission - 23 April 2021
  • Proposal submissions close - 12 noon Friday 18 June 2021
  • Successful applicants notified and contract negotiations begin – Late September 2021

Assessment Panel

All eligible proposals will be reviewed by a combined assessment panel of up to 20 members comprising both science/technical and Vision Mātauranga (VM) experts. 

Professor Gill Dobbie will be chairing the 2021 panel. Read more about Gill Dobbie.

Learn more about the Assessment process in the CfP document and in the Seed project process overview

Frequently asked questions 

You can also find answers to some proposal criteria questions in our FAQs. There are two sets, one for general questions and one for questions relating to Vision Mātauranga proposal submissions:

Further information

Watch the Kaupapa kākano Seed project fund 90 second video

Q&A webinars

Between November 2020 and April 2021 we held three webinars for researchers interested in submitting a proposal for the 2021 Seed Project Fund to learn more about the requirements in the Call for Proposals (CfP). These were hosted by our Vision Mātauranga Associate Theme Leader, Dr Pauline Harris and team. 

If you missed the webinars you can watch an overview hosted by Dr Pauline Harris, plus questions from each webinar are captured in our FAQs above.  

Seed Proposal Development Grants (PDG)

As a new initiative in 2021, SfTI established a fund of $100,000 to support researchers preparing Seed project proposals as Principal Investigators. Each individual Proposal Development Grant (PDG) will be for up to $3,000 and will be paid to the recipient’s employer but can only be used to fund actions to support the development and preparation of a 2021 Seed project proposal including development of the recipient’s research proposal preparation skills. 

High priority was given to ECR applicants most impacted by Covid-19, and those that need the most support.

Applications closed on Friday the 26th of February 2021 and applicants were notified of the outcome by Friday 26th March 2021. Of the 39 applications received, 36 applicants were deemed eligible and awarded a Proposal Development Grant of up to $3,000. You can read more about the PDG within the CfP document.