Participatory Science Platform

The Participatory Science Platform supports collaborative, community projects that bring together communities and science and technology to investigate locally important research questions and problems.

Curious Minds banner. Science and technology in Aotearoa New Zealand starts with curiosity.

The Participatory Science Platform (PSP) is a world-first initiative that aims to engage communities of all kinds in research projects that are locally relevant and have robust science/technology outputs with quality learning outcomes.

All New Zealanders should feel encouraged and equipped to deal with the challenges and opportunities presented by science and technology, and be capable of participating in the debates involving science. We also need an environment that helps New Zealanders use our natural curiosity to interrogate, decide on and make the most of new developments and technologies.

Participatory science is a method of undertaking scientific research where volunteers can be meaningfully involved in the development and progression of locally relevant research projects with science and technology professionals. It goes beyond the idea of scientists crowd-sourcing their data, to build a true partnership between scientists/technologists and the broader community.

How does the PSP work?

Since 2015, we have been running the Participatory Science Platform (PSP) in three regions:

  • South Auckland
  • Taranaki
  • Otago.

These regions were chosen because they are three distinctly different areas of the country with different audiences.

Within each region, an MBIE-appointed Area Lead is responsible for providing support and guidance to research project participants at all stages of the project, from the identification and matching of project partners to supporting project implementation.

What kind of funding is given?

Funded by MBIE, the Area Leads are responsible for the PSP funding application process, assessing applications for project funding and allocating funding to projects that best meet the assessment criteria.

Through the PSP, we fund projects that:

  • are collaborative research projects that have scientific or technological value, pedagogical rigour (quality teaching and learning) and resonate with the community;
  • engage students, kura, schools, businesses, Māori collectives and organisations, and community-based organisations with science and technology professionals; 
  • offer researchers opportunities to become involved in locally relevant lines of enquiry, where high-quality scientific or technological outputs can be created through harnessing the local knowledge and contribution of citizens;
  • offer inspiring and relevant learning and development opportunities for science and technology teachers and students; and
  • engage learners and participants beyond the school/kura community to reach parents, whānau and wider communities.

Research project participants will be able to apply to Area Leads for grants of up to $20,000 (excl GST), which are intended to partially fund a project.

It is expected that approximately six or more projects will be funded in each area per year. 

In Taranaki and Otago, a limited number of small 'seed funds' are available to support application development (Taranaki) or for applicants to plan together and progress the research question, data collection, analysis and knowledge translation strategy for the project (Otago). The seed fund is only awarded at the discretion of the Area Lead and does not guarantee receiving the PSP project grant (all applicants must go through the same contestable process).

For more information