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The odds for Lotto are only slightly worse, but that didn't stop 1089 applications to the Marsden Fund by New Zealand  scientists for $60m of funding for early stage exploration of their ideas.

The fund, administered by the Royal Society, supports investigator-driven fundamental or blue-sky research in which there isn't necessarily a specific end goal or income opportunity. In other words, exploring interesting 'stuff' without being too sure where it will head - the way a surprisingly large number of life-altering discoveries are made.

But you'd have to be an optimist in putting up a bid. Of the thousand-odd proposals, 252 were asked to submit a full proposal, with 102 or 9.5% ultimately funded; most for three years.

A full list of the CRI and university scientist winners is at 

Projects, and their principal investigator, receiving the largest investments include:

  • Rheo-NMR of non-equilibrium transitions in complex fluids, Prof Paul Callaghan, Victoria University ($1,040,000)

  • Regenerating the kidney with stem cells. Novel insights from zebrafish, Assoc Prof AJ Davidson, Auckland University ($926,547)

  • Deep fault drilling project: Physical properties and ambient conditions within the active Alpine Fault plate boundary in central South Island, Dr R Sutherland, Dr J Townend, GNS Science ($920,000)

  • Symbiotic sycnchrony: metabolic co-regulation in a plant-fungi symbiosis, Prof D B Scott, Massey University ($900,000)

  • A new mechanism for post-transcriptional regulation in prokaryotes, Assoc Prof V L Arcus, Dr R Colangeli, Waikato University ($895,051)

There were 22 other projects whose funding over the three year period is $800,000 +.

The smallest quantity of funding of $256,000 has gone to Massey University's Dr NC Parsons for a project, 'Race, place and biopolitics: Zionism, Palestine and population management in the twenty-first century.

Thirty-four of this year's awards are Marsden Fast-Starts, designed to support outstanding researchers early in their careers.

This year a new panel was formed to look at proposals in the engineering area with the view that successful projects will lead to possible new cross-disciplinary applications in science and engineering.

One hundred raw ideas receive money for further exploration (Marsden Fund)

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