When you’ve nearly $12 million to give away it seems everyone’s your friend.
The project manager of Technology New Zealand’s R&D grants programme, John Gibson, says the response to the programme has been beyond the organisation's wildest imaginings.
“We were budgeting for around 500 applicants each getting around $25,000. Instead we’ve had 600 applicants in the first 11 working days and they’re after around $60,000 each," Gibson says.
Applications are evaluated by 25 agents to see if they meet the criteria laid down. Grants are for a third of a project’s cost up to a maximum of $100,000. Applications must be suitably unique — a revolution rather than evolution in design — and the grant is for research and development alone, not market research or trial productions runs.
Gibson says the first dozen applications are in the process of being assessed and are generally of high quality.
“One has been rejected and of the other 11 there are flaws with the applications but nothing that can’t be worked through.” Gibson says early applications are usually the best because their backers are the most eager for the money. Four of the 11 applications are in the software development field.
The fund is being allocated on a first-come first served basis; however, because of the high level of interest, Gibson says once the first 20% has been allocated he will switch to a rationing system and be tougher on applicants.
“We’ll be looking at the higher value, higher margin, higher technical risk projects rather than the ones focused on cost reduction or the like.”
Applications are still open. However, applicants must lodge their requests online at www.technz.co.nz; no paper-based projects will be looked at.
“If they’re not online they’re probably not as forward-thinking as we’d like,” says Gibson.