New Zealand-China Strategic Research Alliance 2024 Call for Proposals

We are inviting proposals for joint research partnerships between New Zealand and Chinese research organisations.

About this opportunity

The New Zealand – China Strategic Research Alliance (SRA) is an annual joint funding programme funded by the Catalyst Strategic Fund. It is a bilateral initiative between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST).

This opportunity is open to New Zealand research organisations for projects that align with the objective of developing enduring science and innovation collaborative partnerships with world-class Chinese research organisations on topics important to both countries. Activities must significantly broaden and deepen collaborative research partnerships between China and New Zealand.

The funding available

MBIE has made up to $1.2M (excluding GST) in total over three years available for investment in joint research partnerships between New Zealand and China that cannot be supported through existing funding.

MBIE and MoST have agreed to support four projects through this funding round, two in each priority area of Food Science and Environmental Science. Up to $300,000 (excluding GST) over three years is available for the New Zealand research partners of each successful project.
Chinese partners must apply for their own funding through MoST. 

A separate call and subsequent assessment process will be administered by the Health Research Council (HRC) on behalf of MBIE in the third priority area: Health and Biomedical Science. Please contact the HRC directly regarding this process.

Funding opportunities(external link) — Health Research Council

Investment objectives

Catalyst: Strategic funds strategic research and large-scale pre-research collaborations with priority partners and in targeted areas that cannot be supported through other means.

The objectives of Catalyst: Strategic Investment fund are to:

  • Leverage international research infrastructure and capabilities in areas posing significant science-based challenges to New Zealand and our international partners
  • Profile New Zealand science and innovation, and our ability to contribute to global science challenges.

Investment outcomes

The Catalyst: Strategic Investment fund seeks to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Targeted international partnerships to maximise the impact and quality of New Zealand science and innovation
  • Emerging international science cooperation opportunities are pursued and advanced to deliver benefits to New Zealand
  • International science and innovation leveraged in key areas, delivering benefits to New Zealand at a faster pace, of better quality or of greater impact than can otherwise be achieved.

Investment priorities

The proposed projects must align with one of the two priority research areas which are Food Science and Environmental Science. Further sub-areas for these priority areas are listed below.

Food science

  • Animal and plant biotechnology
  • Alternative proteins
  • Biological hazards
  • Chemical hazards
  • Labelling and consumer information
  • Production, processing, and handling

Environmental science

  • Clean and renewable energy
  • Climate change
  • Biodiversity
  • Water research (including ocean research)
  • Natural hazards
  • Pollution on land and sea

Who can apply

For a proposal to be assessed it must meet the eligibility criteria set out below. Proposals that do not meet all of these criteria will be declined for funding on eligibility grounds.

  • The proposal must be made by a New Zealand-based research organisation or a New Zealand-based legal entity representing a New Zealand-based research organization.
  • The Science Leader must be employed by a New Zealand-based research organisation, or a New Zealand- based legal entity representing a New Zealand-based research organization.
  • The proposal must involve collaboration from a Chinese research organisation (your Chinese partners must apply for their own funding through MoST).
  • The proposal must not be made by a department of the public service as listed in Schedule 2 of the Public Service Act 2020.
  • Proposals must not benefit a Russian state institution (including but not limited to support for Russian military or security activity) or an organisation outside government that may be perceived as contributing to the war effort.
  • Proposals must be uploaded by the closing date for proposals 12 noon, 12 July 2024 in the MBIE Portal and meet the administrative requirements of MBIE. 

Proposals which also involve world class partners from other countries will be accepted, where these demonstrate the potential for increased excellence and impact beyond what is achievable through a New Zealand and Chinese partnership alone. Proposals which involve private sector partners are also eligible.

This fund has received a high number of applications in recent years, with typical success rates of five to seven per cent. Before deciding to submit an application, we encourage applicants to carefully consider the alignment to the objectives and likelihood of a proposal achieving the intended outcomes.

How the funding can be used

What is fundable

Reasonable expenses directly related with the project and include:

Research activity expenses for

  • consumables and other research expenses
  • personnel
  • contributions to pro-rated salaries

Research exchange expenses for:

  • flights/transport
  • accommodation
  • travel visas and travel insurance
  • meals

Travel costs should not exceed 25% of the budget. All expenditure by individuals should adhere to the rules of the organisation they are affiliated with.

What is not fundable

Expenses not directly related with the project and include:

  • any capital expenditure (unless otherwise agreed with MBIE)
  • dealing with accidents or disasters during the term of the contract
  • alcohol
  • expenses unrelated to the delivery of the contract.

Application information

Applicants are required to complete their proposals in Pītau - our Investment Management System - a secure online portal.

To help you prepare your proposal we’ve provided a proposal template in the key documents section below. 

  1. Applicants submit a full proposal through Pītau. If you do not have a Pītau login, you can request one through your Research Office or through MBIE request access form below (request access at least 2 weeks before you want to submit your proposal).
  2. New Zealand research teams must consult their Chinese partners as some sections of your proposal require their information. Your Chinese partners must apply for their own funding through MoST.
  3. Before developing your proposal, you are encouraged to consider the eligibility criteria, the assessment criteria, and the terms and conditions relating to this opportunity.
  4. The proposal template provides guidance on how to prepare your proposal and the information you are required to provide. We recommend you use the proposal template provided to draft the required information in a word processer and then when ready to submit, copy and paste the necessary segments into the appropriate Pītau fields and upload your supporting documentation where directed.
  5. The information in your proposal is used for assessment and will form the basis of the contract for successful projects.

Key documents

When developing your proposal, we encourage you to consult the following key reference documents:

Key dates

Date Activity
20 May 2024 MBIE Portal Pītau opens for proposals
20 June 2024 Assessor names published on MBIE website
12 July 2024 (12 noon) Closing date for proposals
12 to 15 July 2024 Assignment of proposals to Assessors
25 July to 31 August 2024 Assessment period
Mid-September 2024 Assessor panel meeting
January/February 2025 MBIE and MoST agree final funding decisions
February/March 2025 Investment funding decisions announced
March/April 2025 Contracting period
May 2025 Contracts expected to start

Dates are subject to change.

Note: MoST has a 2-step evaluation process which may mean delays to the final decisions and contract start dates.

If dates change, we’ll let you know by email. To be added to the email list, email

You can also subscribe to our Alert e-newsletter.

Subscribe(external link)

Assessment information

Once you’ve submitted your proposal, this is the assessment process:

  1. MBIE reviews applications to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria. MBIE may contact New Zealand applicants to confirm that a partner application has been submitted to MoST.
  2. Independent Assessors review the proposals against the assessment criteria and, where relevant, the Vision Mātauranga Policy. Assessor scores and comments are entered into Pītau.
  3. Assessors attend an Assessment Panel meeting where the preliminary scores and comments are reviewed, scored, and ranked. The Panel reach a consensus about the preferred proposals, feedback comments, and recommendations which will inform the Panel Chair's report.
  4. MoST conducts a parallel assessment process for Chinese applicants.
  5. MBIE and MoST each compile a shortlist of proposals recommended for funding. MBIE’s shortlist is informed by the recommendations in the Panel Chair’s report.
  6. MBIE and MoST compare the shortlists of recommended proposals and agree which projects should be funded. Where proposals have been ranked differently, MBIE and MoST will negotiate to agree which teams receive funding.
  7. The Manager, International Science Partnerships will make the final funding decisions based on the outcomes of discussions with MoST.
  8. MBIE will notify applicants of the final funding decision and provide general feedback to all applicants on request.

Vision Mātauranga Policy

Conflicts of interest

If you are submitting a proposal, check the list of Assessors below (names will be published before 20 June 2024) for any potential conflicts of interest.

If you identify an actual, potential, or perceived direct or indirect conflict of interest, you must notify us before the application closing date by emailing with the details for further discussion.

You must also notify us if you identify an actual, potential, or perceived direct or indirect conflict of interest, after the application closing date and before the final funding decision date.

Conflicts of interest may occur on 2 different levels:

1. A direct conflict of interest, where an Assessor is:

  • directly involved with a proposal (as a participant, manager, mentor, or partner) or has a close personal relationship with the applicant, for example, family members
  • a collaborator or in some other way involved with an applicant’s proposal.

2. An indirect conflict of interest, where an Assessor:

  • is employed by an organisation involved in a proposal but is not part of the applicant’s proposal
  • has a personal and/or professional relationship with one of the applicants, e.g., an acquaintance
  • is assessing a proposal under discussion that may compete with their business interests.


A list of Assessors will be published here by 20 June 2024.

The assessment criteria

Assessors will assess proposals on each of the criteria (below) and them score them from 1 (Low quality) to 7 (High quality).

Excellence: 40% weighting

Will the activity lead to the creation of new knowledge through high quality research?

The Assessors will consider to what extent the proposal:

  • will lead to the creation of new knowledge which is of the highest calibre, and that will have national and international scientific impact and recognition
  • utilises applicable scientific and technological principles, including a well-designed research plan and a credible approach to managing risk, that will enable delivery of the proposed research aims
  • is ambitious in terms of scientific risk, novelty and/or innovative approaches, and leverages state-of the-art knowledge and facilities
  • is led by world-class science leaders or potential future leaders, with the skills, knowledge and resources to deliver the proposed activities and to manage risk
  • explains the science and innovation opportunities and contributions of Māori knowledge, people and resources for the benefit of all New Zealand

Connections: 30% weighting

Will the proposed activity establish an enduring collaboration with world class international collaborators?

The Assessors will consider to what extent the:

  • New Zealand research team and its proposed international partners have excellent track records of collaborating with other institutions and delivering research results
  • proposed partners offer highly complementary, world-class expertise, knowledge, capabilities and resources, building a high-performing and connected research team
  • research team and its partner have outstanding capabilities and capacity to build and manage a substantive international partnership and fully realise the stated international opportunities
  • research team and its partners have outstanding and comprehensive capabilities including scientific and other resourcing, and supporting infrastructure, to deliver the proposed activities
  • proposed project will give effect to Vision Mātauranga policy, creating connections with and for Māori in a genuine and meaningful way.

Impact: 30% weighting

Will the project deliver benefit aligned to the wider economic, social and environmental goals of New Zealand?

The Assessors will consider to what extent the:

  • proposal has a strong line of sight to expected benefits that are of national and global significance, where the analysis supporting the estimates of benefits and uncertainty is excellent
  • New Zealand and international partners have excellent records of engagement with end-users, with the potential to bring together New Zealand research capabilities
  • proposal identifies opportunities and needs that are important/relevant to New Zealand and connected to multiple end-users or end-user research sectors
  • project has potential to support a pipeline of research/knowledge transfer within the wider science systems to build long-term capability and enable the development of new ideas/applications
  • proposed research gives effect to Vision Mātauranga policy, including benefits to Māori (iwi, communities/groups, and/or businesses).

Other assessment criteria

When assessing proposals against the assessment criteria, MBIE will also take the following factors into account, including the extent to which the overall mix of investments:

  • are likely to achieve the objectives of this opportunity  
  • are likely to support the Vision Mātauranga policy
  • doesn’t overlap with similar projects already being funded
  • will minimise the risk that applicants do not have the capacity to complete the research project because of existing commitments to other research projects.

Vision Mātauranga policy

Funding decisions

The Manager, International Science Partnerships at MBIE will make funding decisions based on Panel Chair’s report and the outcomes of discussions with MoST.

The decision and recommendations may also:

  • set pre-contract conditions which must be met before the investment is contracted
  • set special conditions in addition to the general terms and conditions set out in the Funding contract
  • vary the proposed term of a proposal
  • vary the funding allocated from what is proposed and require critical performance indicators to be renegotiated to MBIE’s satisfaction to reflect the changed funding.

We will advise the successful proposal's contact person of the funding decision by email. The funding decision will be announced by press release and published on MBIE's website. 

Contracting, reporting, and monitoring


Successful applicants will enter into a funding contract (see key documents section above for the template) with MBIE subject to any special conditions being met.


The contract holder must manage the approved funding to ensure delivery of the contracted project.

Subject to specific contract conditions, funding will be provided in 6 instalments of equal value as follows:

  • First payment: made on the next available payment date after the contract has been signed by both parties.
  • Subsequent payment: made every 6 months.

Reporting and monitoring

Successful applicants will need to provide annual reports and a final report in Pītau.

Annual report

The Annual Report will include progress against the objectives and KPIs identified in the work programme and details of any emerging risks and what is being done to address them.

Final report

Required at the end of the project and will include commentary on the overall project outcomes, including key achievements, the steps taken and, where applicable, the changes made to your approach.



Application queries:


0800 693 778 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm)

Last updated: 15 May 2024