The Rural Professionals Fund enables rural professionals to rapidly test exciting and innovative ideas that could lead to significant improvements in farming systems

Applications for the 2023–24 funding round are now closed. Successful projects will be publicly announced in March 2023.

The Rural Professionals Fund is aimed at funding the testing of innovative ideas that could lead to significant improvements in food and fibre farming systems. The fund will invest up to $75,000 per project. Successful applicants will need to co-design and rapidly test (within 9 months) these new and exciting innovation practices as a proof of concept, with a start date of 1 April 2023.

The underlying purpose of this fund is to create benefits for New Zealand farming communities. There is a requirement to extend what is learned from the funded projects into the wider rural profession and farming community. This includes the presentation of projects that did not have the desired outcomes.

The project team is to include a rural professional (applicant), a rural entrepreneur (farmer or grower), and a partner with strong scientific or technical expertise, including mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori research (this may be the rural professional in some cases).

The New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Managers (NZIPIM) is playing a central role in promoting and partnering with the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge (OLW) for this research fund. Applications will be reviewed by OLW and NZIPIM. Project selection will be based on the following criteria: innovation, impact, relevance and benefit to Māori, and public outreach and engagement.

Applications closed on 9am, Monday 6 March 2023. Successful project teams will be notified by 17 March 2023.

Information for Applicants

Funding applications should align with the OLW objective, which is to maintain and improve New Zealand’s land and water quality for future generations, while enhancing the value of the primary sector to New Zealand.

OLW is seeking the following outcomes:

  • Speed up the process of testing new ideas, observations, and innovative practices on-farm.
  • Build deeper relationships between researchers, farmers, and rural professionals.
  • Extend what is learned to the wider rural profession and farming community.
  • Empower Māori agribusinesses with knowledge and resources.

Should a proof of concept show promise, OLW may decide to invest in additional research or direct the project team towards other funds such as the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund.

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