New Zealand – NASA Research Partnerships 2023 Call for Proposals

We are inviting proposals for New Zealand research organisations to work with the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to undertake globally important research to contribute to the understanding of our planet.

About this opportunity

New Zealand is seeking to build a strategic relationship with NASA by partnering in global research initiatives that unlock information about the environment, Earth systems, and climate through observation of the Earth from high-altitude and space.

We are inviting proposals for collaborative feasibility studies delivered jointly by New Zealand research organisations and NASA Centers, in the field of Earth observation.

Areas of mutual interest are:

We are seeking to fund the highest quality proposals. This may mean some research areas will receive more funding than others or no funding at all. Proposals for research activities outside of these areas will not be accepted. 

Applicants are encouraged to consider how research activities may benefit New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere region from the South Pacific to Antarctica.

The funding available

This call for proposals is Stage 1 of a potential 2-stage funding process.

Stage 1

MBIE has made up to NZ$0.9 million (excluding GST) available from the Catalyst Fund for investment in collaborative feasibility studies between New Zealand researchers and NASA Centers. Funding details include:

  • Up to 12 research feasibility studies in the field of Earth observation will be funded.
  • The maximum funding that can be applied for is NZD$75,000 (excl. GST) per proposal.
  • The research feasibility study may be a maximum of 6 months in duration.
  • Research funding from New Zealand can only be used to fund New Zealand researchers’ activities.
  • The research feasibility study must involve a collaboration with a NASA Center. Contributions by NASA Centers must be self-funded by the NASA Center, for example, in-kind support through the allocation of research effort and/or access to facilities. 

Stage 2

We expect up to NZ$5.6 million (excluding GST) over 3 years will be available to fund the progression of feasibility studies into longer-term collaborative research projects.

Applicants who have successfully delivered a feasibility study in Stage 1 as part of this call for proposals will be eligible for consideration for Stage 2 funding. Feasibility studies will be considered jointly by MBIE and NASA against the assessment criteria used for this call for proposals. We expect to fund up to 5 proposals in Stage 2. 

Further details about Stage 2 funding will be available in 2024. 

What should a feasibility study encompass?

Funding is available to support New Zealand researcher participation in Earth Observation feasibility studies with NASA Centers. A feasibility study may cover (but is not limited to):

  • Literature review – A review of the current literature for the chosen area of research, encompassing technology trends and addressing those of the end application/user. The literature review should be comprehensive and lead to the identification of the key knowledge, technology, and application gaps.
  • Knowledge gap identification – Based on the literature review this will define the value proposition of the research. It will lock in the key areas of research and what will remain inside the scope.
  • Expected/preliminary methodology used to address this knowledge gap – This methodology will look into the research pathway and the scientific process that underpins the joint research.
  • Resources required to perform the work and allocation – What physical, human, and financial resources will be needed to perform research into the identified knowledge gap area?
  • Barriers to success – Are there any factors that are identified at an early stage which may require mitigation to be successful?
  • Potential interfaces with other New Zealand/NASA collaborations – Are there any other collaborations that will likely interface with or use your research?
  • Timing – What does the timeline look like from here and what resourcing will be required at each stage?

How funding can be used

What is fundable

Research funding from New Zealand can only be used to fund a New Zealand researchers’ activities and reasonable expenses directly related with the study including:

Research activity expenses for:

  • consumables and other research expenses
  • personnel
  • subcontractors

Research exchange expenses for:

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

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

What is not fundable

The research funding must not be used for:

  • any of the NASA Center researcher activities and expenses
  • any expenses not directly related to the feasibility study, including:
  • expenses outside any categories listed in the feasibility study budget (without prior written permission from MBIE)
  • expenses unrelated to the delivery of the feasibility study funding contract
  • any capital expenditure (unless otherwise agreed in writing with MBIE)
  • alcohol.

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 organisation.
  • The New Zealand Principal Investigator/Programme 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.
  • Each proposal must include a Letter of Intended Collaboration from a NASA Center using the template letter provided in the Key documents section. This letter must be provided at Head of Department level or similar.
  • 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 submitted in our Investment Management Portal before the closing date and meet all the administrative requirements.

This funding opportunity is open to both public and private research organisations. A research organisation is an organisation that has internal capability for carrying out research, science or technology, or related activities.

Applicants may submit multiple proposals, but each proposal must be for a significantly different research feasibility study. If a New Zealand research team submits multiple proposals based on the same study, all proposals for that study may be deemed ineligible.

Webinars to connect New Zealand researchers with people from NASA Centers

New Zealand Space Agency is hosting a series of webinars to maximise opportunities for New Zealand researchers to connect with people from NASA Centers. These webinars will provide an opportunity for potential applicants to present a 4-minute pitch to introduce research ideas and exchange contact details.

New Zealand researchers who do not currently have existing research connections with NASA Centers are strongly encouraged to participate in these webinars. Outside the webinars, MBIE cannot facilitate any connections with NASA Centers or NASA researchers.

Registration

Researchers must register for the webinar to be able to attend.  To register your interest, complete the registration application.

Registration application form(external link) — Wufoo form

Once the webinar registration period closes, we will contact you. Webinars will be scheduled according to demand.

Webinar format

The webinars will be hosted by the New Zealand Space Agency. Key things you need to know about the webinars include:

  • Potential New Zealand applicants will be invited to present their areas of expertise and ideas for research collaboration using a PowerPoint template we will provide after registration.
  • We are expecting high levels of interest, so presentations may be limited to one per organisation.
  • PowerPoint presentations must be submitted in advance of the webinar - this will assist us with scheduling and with grouping participants in thematic areas of interest.
  • Presenters will have a maximum of four minutes, with four slides, to present.

Participation in the webinar series is not a requirement to be eligible to apply for funding. 

Application information

Applicants are required to complete their proposals in IMS (our Investment Management System) a secure online portal. To help you prepare your proposal we’ve provided a proposal template which is located in the key documents section below.

  1. Applicants submit a full proposal through IMS. If you do not have a login, you will need to request access (request access at least one week before you want to submit your proposal).
  2. Before developing your proposal, you are encouraged to consider the eligibility criteria, the assessment criteria, and the terms and conditions relating to this opportunity.
  3. New Zealand research teams must include a Letter of Intended Collaboration from a NASA Center using the template provided as part of this call.
  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 IMS 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 the feasibility study if your application is successful.

Key documents

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

Key dates

Activity Date
NZ presenter registration for webinars opens 7 September 2023
NZ presenter registration for webinars closes 22 September 2023 (2pm)
Webinar schedule finalised by MBIE and NASA based on interest and New Zealand presenters invited to pre-submit PowerPoint presentations 22 September 2023                                       
Final date for presenters to submit PowerPoint presentations 26 September 2023
Webinars held 27 and 29 September 2023
Portal opens for proposal submission 17 October 2023
Assessor names published on web pages By 31 October 2023
Submission period for proposals closes 12 noon, 30 November 2023
Assessment of proposals 11 December 2023 to 31 January 2024   
Assessment panel meeting By 9 February 2024
Investment funding decisions announced By the end of February 2024
Contracting begins Late February 2024
Feasibility study start date 1 April 2024

All dates and times are NZ standard times and are subject to change. To be notified of any changes subscribe to our alert e-newsletter.

Sign up to receive Science and Innovation updates(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.
  2. Independent Assessors review the proposals against the assessment criteria. Assessor scores and comments are entered into IMS.
  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. The Manager, International Science Partnerships will make funding decisions on which New Zealand research organisations are approved for funding, based on the Panel Chair’s report.
  5. MBIE will notify applicants of the final funding decision and provide general feedback to all applicants on request.

Conflicts of Interest

If you are submitting a proposal, check the list of Assessors below (names will be published before 31 October 2023) 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 CatalystNASA@mbie.govt.nz 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.

Assessors

Chair (non-voting)
Assessment Panel

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 indigenous knowledge, people and resources for the benefit of all New Zealand and humanity more broadly.

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
  • the proposed partners offer highly complementary, world-class expertise, knowledge, capabilities and resources, building a high-performing and connected research team
  • the 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
  • the research team and its partners have outstanding and comprehensive capabilities including scientific and other resourcing, and supporting infrastructure, to deliver the proposed activities
  • the proposed study will give effect to Vision Mātauranga policy, creating connections with and for Māori in a genuine and meaningful way.

Impact: 30% weighting

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

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
  • the New Zealand and international partners have excellent records of engagement with end-users, with the potential to bring together New Zealand research capabilities
  • the proposal identifies opportunities and needs that are important/relevant and connected to multiple end-users or end-user research sectors
  • the study 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
  • the proposed research gives effect to Vision Mātauranga policy, including benefits to Māori (iwi, communities/groups, and/or businesses).
  • the proposed study will give effect to New Zealand National Statement of Science Investment 2015-2025, the New Zealand National Space Policy, the Aotearoa New Zealand Aerospace Strategy and NASA’s Strategic Plan and Science Strategy.

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 across the priority areas
  • doesn’t overlap with similar studies already being funded
  • will minimise the risk that applicants do not have the capacity to complete the research study because of existing commitments to other research projects.

Funding decisions

The Manager, International Science Partnerships at MBIE will make funding decisions based on Panel Chair’s report.

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

Contracting

Successful applicants will enter into a funding contract with MBIE subject to any special conditions being met. The funding contract is expected to be signed and returned to us within 2 weeks. Please check the funding contract template in the Key documents section. 

Payments

The contract holder must manage the approved funding to ensure delivery of the contracted study. Subject to specific contract conditions, funding will be provided in two instalments as follows:

  • First payment: made on the next available payment date after the contract has been signed by both parties (75% of the total approved funding)
  • Final payment: following the mid-term Progress Report Meeting (25% of total approved funding).

All funding will be paid in New Zealand dollars to New Zealand-based bank accounts (no international financial transfers).  Any foreign currency transactions will be the responsibility of the New Zealand research organisation(s). 

Reporting and monitoring

Successful applicants will be required to attend a 3-month progress meeting following the start of the study and submit a final written report the end of the study.

3-month progress meeting

MBIE will arrange an online 3-month progress meeting with the research team (both New Zealand and NASA Center participants) to discuss the overall status of feasibility study delivery, any emerging risks, and what is being done to address them. 

Final report

Submission of a completed Feasibility Study report is considered the final report. This report is to be jointly authored by New Zealand and NASA Center researchers. It should include commentary on the overall study outcomes, including key achievements, the steps taken and, where applicable, the changes made to your approach. It should also include clear recommendations on whether the research partnership should progress, and if so, what the next stage should involve.

The completed final report is submitted in our Investment Management System within 4 weeks following completion of the study.

Contact

Email: Application queries: CatalystNASA@mbie.govt.nz

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

Last updated: 06 November 2023