Marsden Fund Assessment Report released

On: 12 April 2017

MBIE has released a new report which details a number of measures to ensure that the Marsden Fund, the Government’s premier fund for excellent investigator-led research, continues to be effective and fit-for-purpose.

The Marsden Fund supports fundamental, investigator-led research and aims to raise the standard of research in New Zealand by attracting and retaining high-quality scientists.

Investigator-led science is an important component of the New Zealand science system and it is vital our investment in the Fund is underpinned by a clear, cohesive direction that aligns with the Government’s broader vision for the science sector.

The report found the Marsden Fund is highly-regarded, well-run and effective at selecting high-quality research within its current settings, but a number of improvements are needed to ensure it continues to deliver benefits in the future.

While the Fund has been performing well and contributing to New Zealand’s growing reputation for producing world-leading research, the National Statement of Science Investment (NSSI) has set clear expectations for investing in excellence and impact. The Fund needs to reflect this in order to maximise its long-term benefit for New Zealand.

Investing for impact doesn’t mean an expectation that all research has to have immediate, tangible outcomes. However, the research needs to have a line of sight to the eventual benefits for individuals, businesses or society - these could be in environmental, social, health, economic or cultural spheres.

The Marsden Fund Council, which oversees the Fund’s operation, has been asked to develop a strategic direction which shows how the Fund will be managed to achieve its objectives and contribute to the NSSI vision and Goals.

The strategic direction will require the Marsden Council to:

  • develop an Investment Plan that sets out the strategic direction of the Fund, addresses the issues identified in the assessment, and shows how the Fund will be managed to achieve its objectives; and
  • develop a Performance Framework that will include periodic review by international experts to provide assurance of the value of the Government’s investment.


The implementation of any changes to the operation of the Fund will be clearly signalled through the Investment Plan. To assist the Council in its expanded role and to provide a strong, independent voice, the Minister of Science and Innovation will also be including more international Councillors on the Council through future appointment rounds.

Read the Marsden Fund Assessment of Strategy and Management Report [PDF 1.2MB].

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