We are calling for proposals now, closing 20 March, 2020! Seed research projects

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Photo of SfTI researchers

SfTI is calling for project proposals to initiate new Seed projects from 1 July 2020. More information on eligibility, key dates, criteria and FAQs can be found below, and within our Call for Proposals 2020 document:

Please note, there have been some key changes to previous funding rounds:

Priority will be given to proposals:

  • aligned with the Data Science and Data Technologies (DSDT) or Sensors, Robotics & Automation (SRA) themes
  • with a team (including the Principal Investigator) of emerging researchers and;
  • Vision Mātauranga (VM) aligned research.

Researchers currently funded within other SfTI projects, are not eligible for funded involvement in Seed projects.

About the Seed project fund

The Seed project fund is intended to bring in new ideas and new researchers to the SfTI community. Our Seed projects are smaller, high risk, technically complex, projects based on ideas developed by researchers themselves.

We prioritise emerging researchers (up to 7 years full-time equivalent in active research), as well as Vision Mātauranga (VM) aligned research. You can learn more about VM and the principles we use to assess the proposals within the Call for Proposals 2020 document.

Funding availiable

We have $3 million to invest (about 15 new projects) in the upcoming 2020 Seed Project round. Seed projects are funded for up to two years with a maximum of $200,000 per project. Since 2016 SfTI has funded 50 Seed projects, with funding rounds typically held every year. 

You view previously funded projects here or find out more about our current Seed project researchers on the ‘Meet the researchers’ page.


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

Researchers currently funded within other SfTI projects are not eligible for funded involvement in Seed projects, though unfunded personnel with relevant involvement are eligible.

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 New Zealand context and niche, and if successful, a contribution to New Zealand’s future economic growth.

Key dates and process

  1. 2020 CfP released ­– mid December 2019
  2. Portal opens for applications –  31 January 2020
  3. National webinar about CfP –  early February 2020
  4. Applications close – 12 noon Friday, 20 March 2020
  5. Initial screening for eligibility – end March 2020
  6. Panel assessment of proposals – April to mid-May 2020
  7. Successful applicants are notified and contract negotiations begin – early June 2020


You can find some answers to the questions we get asked most about the proposal criteria here.

Further information

To assist you in your application, we will release a series of videos in January 2020. The videos will cover what makes a great application and how to consider Vision Mātauranga in your proposal, as well as a webinar in early February 2020 to answer further questions. Keep an eye out on our website and Twitter @sftichallenge for these key updates.

Previously funded projects: 2016-19



Image: SfTI researchers at the annual 2019 Researcher's Workshop

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