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

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 October 2021.

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 are due by 5pm, Friday 13 August 2021. Successful project teams will be notified by 31 August 2021.

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.

  1. Please see Appendix: Context and Guidance for Applicants attached to the application form for general application information. In addition to these general guidelines, the further conditions listed here are specific to the Rural Professionals Fund.
  2. Successful project teams will be led by the Rural Professional or Māori Farm Advisor. This team member will preferably be a member of the NZIPIM, but if not, will be offered associate membership (fee paid by OLW) for the year 2021/22, while undertaking their project.
  3. OLW will enter a two-way contract with the Rural Professional’s organisation, with all funds directed to that organisation on submission of a relevant tax invoice. Funding will be up to $75,000 (excl. GST) per project. If there is more than one Rural Professional organisation involved, please select only one organisation who will contract with OLW. It will be the responsibility of the contracted organisation to subcontract and pay the other parties.
  4. The Rural Professional must have the appropriate qualifications and/or expertise and experience to undertake their Project. If the Rural Professional does not have strong scientific or technical expertise, or a strong track record in kaupapa Māori research or mātauranga Māori, they must engage a partner with this expertise.
  5. It is the responsibility of the Rural Professional to subcontract and pay other parties as needed, and realistic assessments of subcontractors’ time and resource needs must be included in the application.
  6. OLW will only invest in ideas that are relevant to its strategic areas, and that are likely to lead to fundamental improvements in existing systems (e.g., > 10% improvement in performance metric).
  7. All findings are to be published under an open access principle and in a form that is to be readily accessible to the public for use.
  8. Extending and communicating the research is a mandatory part of the investment (at least 10–20% of project funding. This should be additional to the platforms provided by NZIPIM and OLW to communicate project updates, findings, and final reports. Possible avenues of dissemination include media articles, information or tools hosted on industry websites, presentation at conferences and rural events.
  9. Payments will be made quarterly on submission of a progress report, with a final payment of $10,000 following completion and submission of a final report to OLW and public dissemination/presentations.
  10. Rural Professionals may be required to contribute to OLW’s annual reporting to MBIE in 2022, and in future years if the project has ongoing impact.

Rural Professional Fund Application

Rural Professionals Fund Information and Application Form

Submit your completed application below, or via the OLW portal
Applications are due by 5pm on Friday 13 August 2021

Successful project teams will be notified by 31 August 2021

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