Application and assessment information for the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund

How to apply for funding from the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund and how applications are assessed.

Who can apply

For a proposal to be considered for assessment it must meet the eligibility criteria for proposals as set out below in the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund (the Fund’s) 2022 investment round Call for Proposals.

Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund 2022 Investment Round Call for Proposals [PDF, 2.8 MB]

Proposals that we consider don't meet these criteria will be declined for funding on eligibility grounds.

The application and assessment process

Applying for funding from the Fund’s 2022 investment round involves a two-stage process.

  1. Register your intent to apply for funding.
    The registration process signals your intent to submit a funding proposal and is performed in our Investment Management System.
  2. Submit a funding proposal in IMS.
    You may enter and submit your proposal immediately after you have completed Registration, i.e. you do not need to wait for the Registration period to close.

Investment Management System (IMS) Portal

Registration must be completed before you can start to enter and/or submit a funding proposal.

You must meet the deadlines for registration and proposal submission. Late proposals will not be considered.

All eligible proposals will be assessed by independent assessors against the assessment criteria detailed in the Call for Proposals.  MBIE will determine which proposals will be shortlisted and provided to an expert Unlocking Curious Minds (UCM) Panel. This Panel will:

  • discuss and ratify the shortlisted proposals, their consensus comments, and portfolio balancing
  • form funding recommendations which will inform the final decision on which proposals will progress to contracting.

Informed by the UCM Panel’s recommendations, MBIE’s General Manager, Science System Investment and Performance makes the final decisions on which proposals will progress to contracting.

All applicants will be notified of the assessment outcome.

For full details on the application, assessment and decision making processes:

Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund 2022 Investment Round Call for Proposals [PDF, 2.8 MB]

Important dates

The key dates below differ to that in the Call for Proposals.  In response to the impact that the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 is having on people’s lives and the ability to complete proposals we have extended the 2022 UCM funding application submission period for registered applicants and adjusted the assessment and funding decision timeframes accordingly.

Date Event
Monday, 12 July 2021 IMS opens for proposal registrations
Monday, 12 July 2021 IMS opens for proposals
Thursday, 29 July 2021 | 12:00pm Registration period closes
Tuesday, 21 September 2021 | 12:00pm   Submission period for proposals closes
October 2021 Assessment of proposals
December 2021 with contracting into January 2022 Investment funding decisions announced and contracting starts
Tuesday, 1 February 2022 Contracted work programmes commence

Dates are subject to change.

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Essential documents

Conflicts of interest

Before the proposal submission closing date, we will publish the:

  • names and biographies of the assessors selected to assess all eligible proposals
  • names and biographies of the UCM Panel members.

If you identify a potential conflict of interest with your application, email us with the following details as soon as possible so we can look into it and reassign assessors as necessary:

  • your application reference
  • your contact phone number 
  • the assessor’s name or names
  • the reason for your concern.

Contact us

For proposal queries, email

For IMS queries, email or call 0800 693 778 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

Last updated: 26 August 2021