Taranaki’s pilot programme to encourage communities to embrace science and technology has been so successful it is being extended for a third round, meaning more local science and tech projects can get off the ground.

Taranaki is one of three areas to pilot the Curious Minds Participatory Science Platform, part of the Government’s Science in Society plan to encourage and enable more New Zealanders to engage in science and technology.

Curious Minds allows the local community to work alongside scientists and tech experts on projects that are relevant to them.

The first two rounds of the pilot has seen eleven projects delivered in Taranaki, ranging from finding kiwi to extending the bat population, monitoring marine life to comparing electric and petrol-powered cars, and testing stone and metal carving tools to rediscovering heirloom vegetable varieties.

“It’s fantastic that Taranaki’s pilot project has been extended for a third round and that more great ideas will be able to be progressed,” says project manager Josh Richardson, of Venture Taranaki.

“What this means is that any school, community group, organisation or individual, who has an idea that needs scientific research to progress, can apply for up to $20,000 to make it happen.”

“The amazing diversity of the successful projects so far should help to stimulate some fantastic ideas, and we’re looking forward to working with Taranaki people to progress their ideas.”

Two types of funding are available – seed funding to help ideas progress to project stage (up to $1,000) and project funding of up to $20,000 to test ideas and implement the project.

 “We want to hear ideas about anything that could make Taranaki more interesting, better, cleaner, more sustainable, smarter, or protect and grow the environment and its inhabitants.”

Successful projects will be relevant to the community, and have scientific and enduring educational value.
Applications for funding close on 31 March, and projects must be completed by 30 November.  

The Participatory Science Platform pilot has been developed between the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor and will be led in the region by Venture Taranaki, with support from Taranaki Regional Council.
Either a community group or their science partners can apply for funding.  
Community groups include organisations and special interest groups such as: students, schools, kura, local rūnaka, clubs, businesses and environmental or cultural-based organisations. 
Groups can be a geographical community or a community of interest spanning several locations, but they must be substantively Taranaki-based.

Research project funding can be used by science professionals and community groups/schools/businesses/Māori collectives and organisations to plan together and progress research projects. In addition, eligible costs also include research tools or consumables related to taking a project forward.