Centres of Research Excellence

Centres of Research Excellence

Last updated 7 August 2020
Last updated 7 August 2020

The Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) Fund was established in 2001 to encourage the development of excellent tertiary education-based research that is collaborative, strategically focused and creates significant knowledge transfer activities.

Who applies:  Universities, Wānanga or Institutes of Technology/Polytechnics

Agreed through:  Contract (off Plan)

Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) are inter-organisational research networks, with researchers working together on commonly agreed work programmes. CoREs make a contribution to New Zealand’s development and link to user groups. They also build research capacity and capabilities through post-graduate programmes and the training of new researchers.

Funding from the CoREs Fund is determined through a fully contestable process.

CoREs funding rounds

The first CoREs were established in 2002 and further funding rounds were undertaken in 2006/07, 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2019/20. Currently ten CoREs are funded to June 30 2021.

2019/20 funding round

We are undertaking another funding round in 2019/20 to select up to ten CoREs that will be funded from 1 July 2021. 

To find out more read the Terms of Reference (PDF, 649 Kb).

2019/20 round - useful information

Who is responsible for the selection process?

The TEC is responsible for the selection process and the Royal Society Te Apārangi (the Society) administers the selection round on behalf of the TEC.  The Society will be appointing an Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the TEC and the TEC in turn makes recommendations to the Minister for funding.

Why is the selection process being run by the Royal Society Te Apārangi?

The Society has a wealth of experience in running contestable funding processes.  It is able to leverage its experience and contacts to design and run the round.

How much funding is available?

The TEC has $49.8 million per annum (GST exclusive) available to invest in CoREs.  Up to 10 CoREs will be funded.

What is the timeline for the round?

The indicative timeline for the round is as follows:

Event Indicative date
Publication of guidance documents and call for expressions of interest late July 2019
Expressions of interest close late August 2019
Closing date for full applications 28 November 2019
Notification of applications that have been short-listed for further consideration May 2020
Outcome of funding process announced October 2020
Funding agreements signed by TEC and host institution November 2020
Agreement of Research and Strategic Plans with selected CoREs April 2021

What happens if the successful bids exceed the appropriation?

The TEC makes funding recommendations to Ministers based on information provided in the bids and the findings of the Advisory Committee. 

If the total value of the bids exceeds the funding available, the TEC will offer less funding than requested so that the funding used fits within the appropriation.  The TEC will talk to successful applicants about the funding they will receive once the outcome of the round is known.

Why is it necessary to have a host institution?

CoREs must be hosted by an eligible host organisation that is legally responsible for the CoRE.  The funding determination limits host organisations to Tertiary Education Institutions (TEIs) – Universities, Wānanga, and Institutes of Technology/Polytechnics.  Organisation that are not TEIs can be involved in CoREs as collaborative partners.

What information will be reviewed in determining the bids that get funded?

Only information submitted as part of the funding round will be considered in the selection process.  The reputation and achievement of previously funded CoREs, or other entities will not be considered, except where it is provided as part of the information requested from applicants in their proposals. Proposals from new consortia will be able to provide similar information on the achievements of their research teams, meaning that new consortia can be considered equally alongside existing consortia.

How are CoREs different from National Science Challenges?

CoREs are bottom-up curiosity driven research collaborations between individuals at multiple research organisations.  The direction of the CoRE and programme of research are determined by the researchers in consultation with their host institution, not driven by Government.

How is funding distributed?

The host institution receives quarterly payments from the TEC that are then distributed amongst the partner organisations as appropriate.

Can another government agency be a collaborative partner?

A government agency can be a partner in a CoRE, but we would need to see that the collaborative partner has an active research unit and will play a full part in the proposed research programme.  In addition, it would be prudent for that partner to keep clear records illustrating what research was funded from CoREs funding versus its own budgets.

Can we employ overseas researcher to work on the CoREs work programme?

The use of overseas academics is not prohibited.  However, in order to be funded, CoREs must show the benefit they will bring to New Zealand and the contribution that will be made to the New Zealand tertiary education system.  The proposal must demonstrate how these things will be achieved with overseas academics.

Can current CoREs apply?

Yes.  Current CoREs are able to apply to be funded from 2021.

How can we find out more information about the selection process?

A Selection Framework document was prepared that described the process that was to be used by the Society to develop the recommendations to TEC on the proposals to be funded. That document included the appointment of an Advisory Committee and Expert Panels to assist in the process. The Selection Framework is available on the Society’s web site.