Applications for round two of the Ārohia Trailblazer Grant are now closed. Shortlisted finalists will be notified in mid July.

The Ārohia Evidence Grant remains open.

Getting that ground-breaking idea out of the lab or workshop and successfully into the hands of customers is hard work. We know even the brightest innovators struggle with this challenging step.

The  Ārohia Trailblazer Grant was created to support the very best innovative businesses at the “getting ready to go to market” stage of their innovation’s journey. They’ve done most of the tricky research and development for their game-changing creation, but they need that critical funding to finally bring their new product or service to market.

The grant actively seeks projects that are the best of the best of those at this stage and is specifically looking to support those businesses with four clear attributes (below), and the ability to demonstrate them. Unlike other grants, you’re competing against other businesses and innovators, with only the very best receiving funding.

Most important of the four attributes is how these game-changers approach creating opportunities for the other innovators around them, as well as the wider innovation ecosystem in Aotearoa. We know one ingenious creation today can spillover to create many, many more for the future.

So, if you’re doing something ground-breaking, need a helping hand to get to market, and your work is a positive force for other innovators, get in touch.

If you’re the best of the best, you could become an Ārohia Trailblazer.

By the numbers

maximum finalists per round
$ 4 m
maximum co-funding
$ 21 .4m
granted to date
$ 15 .1m
available in the next round

Benefits to your business

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Prepare to go to market

Co-funding to gear up and get your innovation out to market, ready for customers.

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Focus your team

Clarify your business vision and purpose, and set your sights on long-term success.

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Investor ready

Sharpen your pitch and proposal, helping to secure further investment in future.

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Get recognised as a Trailblazer

Receive the acclaim from your fellow innovators and proudly call yourself an Ārohia Trailblazer.

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Who is the Ārohia Trailblazer grant for?

The Ārohia Trailblazer Grant supports the very best innovative businesses at the “getting ready to go to market” stage of their innovation journey. Those businesses have done most of the tricky research and development for their game-changing creation (Ārohia Trailblazer does not fund R&D costs) but they need that critical funding to finally bring their new product or service to market.

Ārohia Trailblazer funding can be invested into a broad range of things, from setting up new infrastructure and production capabilities, and building teams with the right skills, through to building demonstration models and marketing. (Read the Eligible activities to find out more.)

The Ārohia Trailblazer Grant certainly isn’t for everyone. The application process is rigorous, but it’s designed to provide this group a substantial helping hand. Most excitingly, it celebrates the Trailblazers that are creating new opportunities for their communities, their industries and their fellow innovators. 

Meet the Trailblazers

View our recent grant recipients

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Trailblazer attributes

These four attributes help us to identify the businesses having the biggest positive impact on the innovation ecosystem, which in turn plays a vital role in driving economic growth and future prosperity in Aotearoa.

To apply for the Ārohia Trailblazer Grant, you’ll need to show evidence of all four attributes.

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A product or service that’s not yet for sale, or available to customers (not yet in-market)

Great ideas that are well formed but haven’t yet been launched to the open market.

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A product or service that’s truly new and unique (novel)

Innovations that are world-leading and ground-breaking. 

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A product or service that customers want and creates a viable business (market impact, commercial feasibility and commercial viability)

Ideas that are likely to be a genuine financial success, to the benefit of everyone involved.

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The creation of something that helps other innovators in Aotearoa to create new and unique products or services (innovation ecosystem benefits)

Creating new innovation opportunities for other businesses; opportunities that otherwise would not have existed.

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Let’s see if the Ārohia Trailblazer Grant is right for you.

There’s seven questions in our quiz. If you can confidently answer “Yes” to all of the questions, you’re likely to be eligible to apply for the Ārohia Trailblazer Grant.

This is a contestable grant, which means that only the best will be awarded the grant. To confidently answer “Yes” you will need external, documented evidence to back up your claims. If you’re not confident, then we have the Ārohia Evidence Grant, that might help you gain the evidence to apply for Ārohia Trailblazer Grant.

Take our 60 second self-assessment

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Ārohia Evidence Grant

If your business intends to apply for the Trailblazer grant, but doesn’t quite yet have the evidence to demonstrate the key attributes, the Ārohia Evidence Grant can provide funding so that a business can prepare an application for the full  Ārohia Trailblazer Grant in the future. 

The funding can be used for a range of activities, including customer research, professional advice, purchasing reports, pitch preparation and demonstration models.

Applicants can apply for up to $25,000. For every $1 granted by Callaghan Innovation, the business will need to match $1 from their own funds, or via private investment.

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Funding available

Like many other government grants, applicants will need to secure co-funding. 

For every dollar spent by a recipient, 30 cents come from Callaghan Innovation, and the other 70 cents come from your own funds, or via private investment. 

The project in your application must have at least a minimum value of ~$333,000 ($100,000 grant) and maximum value of ~ $13.3m ($4m grant).

Read the Eligible Activities for the Ārohia Trailblazer Grant guidance, to understand which areas and activities funding can be applied for.

Recipients will have a maximum of six months following grant award to secure their co-funding.

Don't forget - R&D activities are not eligible

If you're looking for funding for R&D, we'd advise you explore the New to R&D Grant  and the Research & Development Tax Incentive.

Business eligibility

Entities eligible to apply

You can apply for an Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer Grant if you are:

    • a Company registered (and incorporated) in New Zealand under the Companies Act 1993 that is not controlled* by the government or one or more government agencies 
    • a Limited Partnership registered in New Zealand under the Limited Partnerships Act 2008 that is not controlled* by the government or one or more government agencies
    • a Māori Trust or incorporation under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, or a similar organisation managing Māori assets under multiple ownership
    • a Company incorporated in another country but registered to do business in New Zealand (registered under the Companies Act 1993 on the Overseas Register - ASIC or NON-ASIC)**.

*Control means 50% or more of shares or voting interests in another entity, or control of appointments to an entity’s controlling board. 

**This definition of “Company” reflects what is referred to as a “Foreign Entity” in the Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer Grant Ministerial Direction.

Entities not eligible

Entities not eligible for the Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer Grant include:

    • Local authorities, government departments or agencies
    • State Owned Enterprises and Public Finance Act 1989 Schedule 4A companies
    • Local, national and regional promotional bodies
    • Crown entities
    • Crown Research Institutes (CRIs)
    • Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) including foreign-owned TEOs
    • Entities controlled by any of the above
    • Callaghan Innovation
    • Sole traders
    • Charitable trusts
    • Partnerships
    • Unincorporated Joint Ventures
    • Unincorporated charities
    • Incorporated societies
    • Trusts (other than a Māori Trust as expressly stated under eligible business criteria).

Deadlines and application assessment

Key dates and deadlines

Current round of applications (round 2)

    • Wednesday March 6th - Applications open for Ārohia Trailblazer Grant.
    • Thursday April 4th (midday) - applicants must have spoken to our team by this date, so that they can be registered on systems. No new registrations will be received after this time.
    • Friday April 5th (midday) - applicants must have started their application within the online portal (IMS) by this date. 
    • Monday April 29th (midday) - deadline for submission of  Ārohia Trailblazer Grant applications within the online portal (IMS). No applications will be processed after this time.
    • Mid July - Shortlisted organisations are notified. We then undertake our due diligence process. Applicants that pass due diligence will then be invited to present to the Grant Evaluation Panel.
    • Early August: Shortlisted organisations present to the Grant Evaluation Panel.
    • September 20th: chosen recipients notified and named as a Trailblazer.



Next round of applications (round 3)
The next round of applications is expected to open in November / December 2024.

Applying for both grants
Due to the timings of applications for both Trailblazer and Evidence grants, simultaneous applications are strongly discouraged.

Assessing your application

All eligible applications are reviewed initially by our internal Screening Committee. This committee scores applications against a scoring framework, to create a shortlist of of the highest-ranked applicants

This shortlist of the highest-ranked applicants will then be invited to present to our Grant Evaluation Panel. Comprising external innovation leaders, the panel will help us decide who are the most compelling applicants, worthy of the title Ārohia Trailblazer. The panel judges the application, pitch presentation and answers to their questions against the scoring framework.

What is a contestable grant?

Unlike lots of other grants, this grant is contestable. This means applicants are competing against other applicants, with those providing the most compelling evidence of the four attributes being selected for the shortlist

To ensure fairness in the contestable setting, Callaghan Innovation employees and representatives, i.e. our partners in the Regional Business Partner network, will not be able to give you 1:1 assistance to help you complete your Ārohia Trailblazer Grant application.

This is because it could unfairly advantage one applicant over another, and we need to ensure there’s a level playing field for all applicants.

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Resource hub

Visit the Ārohia Resource Hub to access relevant documents, terms and definitions, and read FAQs about the grants.

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Start your application

Connect with our team, who can support you with your Ārohia Trailblazer application.

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