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Investing in Ideas

Investing in research that is excellent, innovative and impactful.

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The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) identifies and funds high-impact research that addresses New Zealanders’ health needs.

We support the best ideas and innovations proposed by researchers, ensuring we invest in research that is excellent, innovative and impactful.

Our research portfolio spans all disciplines, including biomedical, clinical, public health, and health services research. And through all our investments we aim to make a difference by fostering excellence and innovation; connecting for greater impact; strengthening the health research ecosystem; and advancing Māori health.

We fund research that builds knowledge and fuels discoveries, with a view to both immediate impact and longer-term health gains. We believe healthcare and health services should be underpinned by quality evidence, so we invest significantly in research that can directly inform healthcare policies, practice, and systems in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The ideas funded by the HRC not only contribute to disease prevention, treatment and cures, but also to better models of care and improved efficiencies. The HRC is committed to improving the quality, accessibility, timeliness, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability of New Zealand’s health system.

Features of excellent research

Excellent research needs to be both methodologically sound and scientifically robust. It also identifies genuine knowledge gaps or needs, as well as being ethical, well-performed and well-reported. All these elements help minimise research waste stemming from duplication or unsound results, while creating a system that is best placed to address the most pressing health needs. 

We recognise that excellent research occurs across the full range of research disciplines, using many and varied methodological approaches, including Mātauranga Māori and Kaupapa approaches which are highly valued and responsive to the health needs of New Zealanders.

We encourage individual and community involvement throughout the research process, while recognising that excellent research can be original or build on gains from research carried out nationally or internationally.

Making a difference

Delivering impact
For research to have the best chance of making a difference to New Zealanders, we ask research applicants to think about the potential impact of their work right from the planning stages of their research. The HRC’s ‘Pathway to Impact model’ sets out a chain of linked steps to describe how benefits can be generated at various points of the research journey, and helps researchers prepare for (and respond to) opportunities for maximising impact as their research progresses. Here are some great examples of impact resulting from HRC-funded research. 

Addressing New Zealand priorities
To ensure that every dollar invested is addressing issues that matter to New Zealanders, the HRC has worked with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to set a Prioritisation Framework that applies to all publicly-funded research in New Zealand. All research proposals to the HRC will need to address the aims and attributes of this Framework which will be formally announced at the end of 2019. The Framework focuses on how and why we do health research in New Zealand, and leaves what we research at the discretion of contributors.

More on HRC's research priorities, drivers and goals can be found in our Impact and Performance publications in our Resource Library. 

Funding opportunities

All our ‘Ideas’ funding opportunities are available on HRC Gateway, and are grouped into the following rounds:

  • Explorer Grants – General, Māori, Pacific
  • Programme Grants – General, Māori, Pacific 
  • Project Grants – General, Māori, Pacific 
  • Health Delivery Research Project Grants
  • Health Delivery Research Activation Grants.