Catalyst: Strategic – an investment in health-related A.I. research in partnership with Soul Machines

MBIE is inviting proposals under Catalyst Strategic for internationally connected research projects that explore the potential for Soul Machines’ ‘Digital People’ TM Human OS Platform in an area of healthcare research.

This Catalyst: Strategic Call for Proposals is a unilateral investment by the New Zealand Government, in partnership with Soul Machines, for internationally connected research projects that explore the application of A.I. in an area of healthcare research.

MBIE will fund up to 3 proposals under this investment, and Soul Machines will provide the successful research teams with access to its ‘Digital People’ A.I. Product Environment for the duration of the projects. Up to NZ$2 million (GST excluded) over 3 years is available to each successful New Zealand research team.

This investment has 3 priority research areas:

  • Mental Health, including depression, anxiety, and perinatal/postnatal mental health
  • Metabolic disease, including diabetes/pre-diabetes
  • Medical Triage, including diagnostics

And 6 priority research partner countries:

  • Republic of Korea
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Germany

Please note: These priorities are not exclusive. Applications outside the above priority areas and with research partners from other countries will be accepted and may be considered for funding if they demonstrate high levels of excellence, strong international connections, and have significant potential to positively impact New Zealand’s health research sector.

Please read the investment priorities and assessment criteria in the Call for Proposal carefully. This investment will support joint research projects that support the overarching objective of developing enduring science and innovation collaboration partnership with world-class international counterparts.

Catalyst: Strategic is 1 of the 4 funding streams within the Catalyst Fund. The Catalyst Fund supports activities that initiate, develop and foster collaborations building on international science and innovation for New Zealand’s benefit.

Who can apply

This Call is open to New Zealand research organisations. For the purposes of this investment, a research organisation is defined as an organisation that has internal capability for carrying out research, science or technology, or related activities.

You are welcome to contact MBIE if you have any questions about eligibility or the Call for Proposals more generally by emailing us at:

Soul Machines’ Digital People’ platform

Soul Machines is a world leading New Zealand A.I. company, whose Human OS platform aims to enable researchers and international organisations to leverage the full capabilities of human and machine collaboration. Soul Machines’ Platform features a patented Digital Brain that drives its Autonomous Animation, creating lifelike and dynamically interactive experiences.

The entry point for researchers to create Digital People as part of these projects will be through Soul Machines Digital DNA Studio.

Digital DNA Studio(external link) — Soul Machines

It is simple to rapidly create a personalized online experience. Just choose a Digital Person from our diverse range of options, or work with Soul Machines to create your own. Then you can select a language and engage with them to “train them” for your research or user engagement requirements. Finally, you can quickly build a UI to host your Digital Person and the content it can display.

The application and assessment process

Download the Catalyst: Strategic Call for Proposals for full details on the application, assessment and contracting process.

Catalyst: Strategic - Soul Machines: Application of A.I. in health research December 2021 investment - Call for proposals [PDF, 680 KB]

To be eligible for funding under this investment, applicants must confirm that they have read and are prepared to accept Soul Machines’ terms of use for the ‘Digital Human’ A.I. Product. Agreement will be a contract condition for the successful projects – please ensure that you have read these carefully prior to applying.

Catalyst: Strategic - Soul Machines: Application of A.I. in health research December 2021 investment - Terms and conditions [PDF, 145 KB]

There is no registration phase for this investment process, however, we recommend that you check your access to, and start your application in, MBIE’s IMS online portal well in advance of the closing date. Late proposals will not be considered except in exceptional circumstances beyond the applicant’s control.

Important dates

Catalyst: Strategic

10 January 2022: Applications open

Noon, 3 March 2022: Closing date for proposals

April 2022: Investment funding decision(s) announced

July 2022: Contracts expected to begin

Essential documents

Contact us

For more information, email

Last updated: 16 December 2021