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 http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/programmes/funds/marsden/research-portfolio/2010/
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.