Explore the broad diversity of projects funded through Unlocking Curious Minds from 2015 to now.
What is Unlocking Curious Minds?
Unlocking Curious Minds is a contestable fund that supports innovative, quality projects which provide more New Zealanders with opportunities to learn about and engage with science and technology.
People who already have some previous science and technology experience are usually easier to engage than people who have none. Therefore, the challenge is to reach and inspire a broader base of New Zealanders through initiatives that bring science and technology to audiences that have less opportunity to learn about and engage with science and technology.
Unlocking Curious Minds supports projects that enhance or broaden the connection and engagement of 'hard to reach' New Zealanders by:
- supporting 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
- encouraging engagement in societal debate about science and technology issues facing the country.
The fund supports the entire strategic plan to encourage and support all New Zealanders to engage with science and technology.
The application process
How does the application process work?
Unlocking Curious Minds is managed directly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
The 2020 Unlocking Curious Minds contestable funding round opens for registrations on 29 July 2019.
The registration process for the 2020 Unlocking Curious Minds funding round requires all applicants to register their project in the MBIE funding portal by 12 noon, 15 August 2019 before submitting a full proposal. If you do not register your project by this date, you cannot start or submit a proposal.
Full proposals are due 12 noon, 12 September 2019. Refer to the Call for Proposals for more details.
What funding is awarded?
For the Fund’s 2020 investment round, approximately $2.0 million (excluding GST) is available through 2 grants to fund successful proposals.
Local/community projects that will take place in one New Zealand town or city can apply for up to $30,000. You do not have to apply for the full amount available. An individual, or organisation which is a legal entity with an IRD number, can apply for a local grant.
Up to $150,000 can be requested by organisations only for projects that will take place in one or more New Zealand regions. You do not have to apply for the full amount available.
Applicants for regional/national grants must provide a minimum of 20% of the total project costs as cash co-funding and/or in-kind support. MBIE will fund 80% of the total project costs to a maximum of $150,000.
For further information and examples of co-funding requirements, refer to the 2020 Call for Proposals [PDF 1.7MB].
Who can apply?
The Unlocking Curious Minds Contestable Fund aims to encourage innovative, quality projects that enhance or broaden the connection and engagement of ‘harder-to-reach’ New Zealanders with science and technology. Hard to reach audiences include, but are not limited to, youth, Māori and Pasifika, and rural New Zealanders.
For local grants the applicant can be an individual (New Zealand citizen or permanent resident) or an organisation that is a legal entity with an IRD number.*
Only an organisation that is a legal entity* with an IRD number can apply for regional/national grants. Individuals cannot apply for regional/national grants.
Regional/national projects must either involve collaboration with other organisations or leverage existing engagement programmes or resources (government or non-government). This could include, for example, partnerships with organisations that have a strong connection with the target group, expertise in science content and/or communication, event management etc.
* Some examples of organisations include community groups, Māori collectives/organisations, businesses, research providers, zoos, museums and science centres.
Legal entities may include incorporated societies, registered charities and registered companies [and trusts]. Where relevant, you will be asked to provide your Charities Commission number, New Zealand Business Number or Incorporated Society Number.
Applications from Trusts will need to provide us with an electronic copy of their Trust Deed/Rules document when submitting their proposal.
Government departments (as defined in Schedule 1 of the State Sector Act 1988), Centres of Research Excellence (funded through the Tertiary Education Commission), and National Science Challenge research collaborations are not eligible to apply for funding.
Where can I find similar projects already funded?
View the Projects page for summaries of projects funded through Unlocking Curious Minds:
Where do I apply for funding?
You will need to register to gain a username and password for your proposal, which you can save and then continue later.
If you are successful, MBIE will set up a contract with you using the terms and conditions in the 2020 Funding Agreement template [PDF 285KB].
You should read this before you apply so that you are aware of your and MBIE’s legal obligations should your proposal be accepted.
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
How is my proposal processed?
MBIE will initially check the eligibility of proposals and will decline proposals that don’t meet the criteria.
An independent assessment panel appointed by MBIE will assess all eligible proposals against the assessment criteria, which is set out in the 2020 Call for Proposals [PDF 1.7MB]. After reviewing eligible proposals, the independent assessment panel will provide advice to MBIE on which proposals to fund.
The Assessment Panel will be posted here as soon as it is announced, and the guidelines the panel will work from will be posted at the same time.
When making the final funding decision, MBIE will take into account the overall mix of proposals to ensure that there is a variety of delivery approaches, geographic locations, and science and technology topics and projects that target a wide range of groups as well as any other information that it deems relevant.
The final decision on the allocation of funding will be made by the General Manager, Science System Investment and Performance, MBIE.
Who should I contact about funding my project?
Please contact the MBIE Curious Minds Team in the first instance:
The Investment Managers at MBIE that manage the Curious Mind programme can help with queries about the proposal process and MBIE’s expectations and requirements regarding funding eligibility.
What happens if my project gets selected for funding?
If your funding proposal is accepted, MBIE will get in touch to put together a Funding Agreement with you, using the MBIE template designed for this Fund. The deliverables in this agreement will be based on your proposal. Please ensure you read the terms and conditions in the Funding Agreement template before you submit your proposal. By applying for the Fund you accept the terms and conditions in the funding agreement (refer to Terms and Conditions).
All projects are required to provide a Progress report detailing progress towards the overall project outcomes stated in the application, the level of audience engagement, budget, and communication. MBIE can provide assistance with surveys to assist successful applicants with understanding and reporting on the reach, impact and effectiveness of their project.
Within a month of the contract end date, a Final report that updates the information in the Progress report and confirms the final outcomes of the project will be required.
For grants up to and including $30,000 (excluding GST), 100% of the approved funding will be paid once the Funding contract has been signed.
For grants above $30,000 (excluding GST), 50% of the approved funding will be paid when the Funding contract is signed, 40% will be paid on acceptance of a mid-term Progress Report (subject to satisfactory project progress), with the remaining 10% payable on acceptance of a Final Report that demonstrates that the project has achieved its stated outcomes.
More details will be provided to you at the time.
Who should I contact about promoting my project?
Royal Society Te Apārangi provides communication support to funded Curious Minds projects. A skilled science communicator is available to write and share your stories on the Curious Minds website and the Curious Minds social media accounts. The team is also on hand for any questions you may have about promoting your project through your own channels, or about contacting media outlets.
You can contact the Royal Society team through: firstname.lastname@example.org