After dedicating long hours in labs, lecture theatres and the library, postgraduate students are eager to apply their newly found knowledge to real-world projects.

The R&D Career Grant was created to fund innovative businesses to employ PhD and Masters Graduates (NZQA Levels 9 and 10) for six months, and give them their first stepping stone toward a long and fruitful career in research and development.

You’ll welcome one or more students into the teams within your business that are undertaking research and development. You’ll give them real-world R&D experience, making them an active part of the teams developing new and exciting products and services.

In return, they’ll bring their new-found, hard-earned knowledge and skills to your team, and a fresh outlook on the challenges you’re working to overcome.

[David Murray]
Volpara Solutions is a company that makes software solutions for women's health, in particular breasts density. We received a Student Career R&D grant from Callaghan Innovation in 2014.

[Kyle Wang]
I found an internship opportunity at Volapara Solutions website, we filed an application for Callaghan Innovation Career grant. For my internship I worked on developing [unclear] mammogram processing techniques to facilitate the diagnosis of breast disease.

[David Murray]
The prototype that Kyle developed was a success and we will soon release a new product where this work features heavily.

[Kyle Wang]
During my six months at Callaghan innovation internship, I learned how to be a good team player. Volpara Solutions offers me an opportunity and to engage deeply with other scientists and engineers to work together on science projects.

[David Murray]
Our company relies on our ability to innovate. Being a small company Callaghan Innovation has provided us with this capacity and it's integral in our ability to continue to do business.

[Kyle Wang]
So I am working full-time in Volpara Solutions as an Imaging Scientist.

[David Murray]
The students that have worked for us in the past have been PhD graduates in science image processing or computer science or a related field.

[Kyle Wang]
So I think, being open-minded is a very important, you know practical challenge and also I always love it when the boss makes jokes.

[David Murray]
My advice to companies thinking of applying for Callaghan innovation grant is to think big, when we look at the fantastic features that we've got out of this grant, and of grants in the past then it was well worth it.

Benefits to your business

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Support future talent

Give future innovators their first career stepping stone to gain valuable real-world R&D experience.

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Introduce fresh thinking

Inquisitive minds, helping you think outside of the box and approach challenges differently.

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Accelerate R&D projects

Progress your research and development projects.

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Their wages covered

All six months of their salary is covered by the grant.

Is this right for me?

Business eligibility

To apply for the grant, your business must offer an R&D position which provides the student or recent graduate with a worthwhile experience, and plays a positive part in their professional development. You must:

  • Have an active R&D programme within your business i.e. R&D budget and technical R&D staff.
  • Meet financial due diligence requirements.
  • Employ the student in a full time position - the student cannot be a contractor, they must be on the payroll.

Your organisation must be an eligible business entity:

  • Incorporated in New Zealand and Registered under the Companies Act.
  • Registered under the Limited Partnerships Act.
  • A Māori incorporation or trust established under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, a trust set up to manage assets as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, a Māori statutory body, or a business controlled by one or more of these entities.

There are limits in place as to how many students businesses can apply for.

Student eligibility

Organisations wishing to take on a student intern funded by the grant must ensure that their candidate:

  • Is about to complete, or has recently completed, a masters or PhD degree in science, technology, engineering, design or business (i.e. has submitted a thesis for marking, or completed course requirement for taught masters, less than 12 months ago).
  • Has undertaken the study at a New Zealand tertiary institution if they are not a New Zealand citizen.
  • Is legally permitted to work in New Zealand.
  • Has not been employed in the industry under a professional arrangement related to their area of study except temporary, part-time or at a tertiary organisation.
  • Has not been previously employed at the business unless this was short-term employment (e.g. over the summer break).

Businesses can apply for an R&D Career Grant as soon as they identify a suitable student. 

Eligible businesses will receive the first six months of the student’s annual salary costs for a full time position up to:

  • $30,000 (plus GST) for a masters graduate (based on annual salary of $60,000).
  • $35,000 (plus GST) for a PhD graduate (based on an annual salary of $70,000).

Applications for R&D Career Grants are open year round.

For returning businesses with access to the Grants online portal: you can click on your project list tab, start a new application and then select  “R&D Career Grant” from the dropdown box. Please also ensure you read the Funding Agreement as there are changes from time to time.

For new applicants of the grant, please contact our Customer Service Team. 

All customers will receive hands-on support from the Funding Engagement Team during the application process.

Businesses applying for the R&D Career Grant must have first recruited their student or graduate. We’d actively encourage you to advertise roles in the usual places you’d promote vacancies, such as your website and social media, as well as on the likes of Seek and Trade Me.

If you’re seeking a student from a certain course, with a specific type of knowledge, you may wish to approach the specific departments at universities and institutions directly.

There are a number of other sites and job boards dedicated to university talent and internships. You can find them on the R&D Career Grant Resource Hub.

Frequently asked questions

To be eligible a business must have an ‘active R&D programme’. What does this mean?

This means that the business must have:

  • an in-house R&D programme
  • a recent history of R&D activities over the preceding year and an R&D plan for the upcoming year; and
  • a minimum of one R&D full time equivalent (FTE) employed by the business.

See our guide to describing your R&D

How many Student Grants can I apply for?

Two current R&D Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff are required for each student and this 2:1 ratio applies regardless of the type of grant (Fellowship Grant, Career Grant or Experience Grant). The exception is when the business has only one R&D FTE - in this case one student can be applied for.

If a business only qualifies for one student at a time due to having 1 R&D staff member, and a current student grant is nearing completion, a business may apply for another student grant (Career or R&D Experience) provided the end date of the existing grant is no later than 2 months from the date of the new application. E.g. Fellowship grant will complete on 30 June, business may apply for another student grant no earlier than 1 May for a 1 July start date in order to maintain the 2:1 RDT FTE to student ratio.

Read all of the frequently asked questions on the R&D Career Grants Resource Hub.


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R&D Career Grant Resource Hub

A full list of resources can be found on our R&D Career Grant Resource Hub.

Meet our experts

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Spencer Willis
Spencer Willis GM Funding Engagement Driving positive change throughout the customer experience

I work as the General Manager of Funding Engagement at Callaghan Innovation where we guide and support innovators through the funding process for their breakthrough ideas. My journey here has been dynamic, shaped by experiences ranging from wholesale financial markets to global consumer research organisations.

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Spencer Willis GM Funding Engagement
Sharon Burleigh
Sharon Burleigh Group Manager Funding & Contract Management Funding and Contract Management Lead

My work managing the Funding & Contract Management team involves setting the terms of Callaghan Innovation’s R&D grants relationship with R&D businesses. Over twenty five years in the finance industry sees me well suited to the role of managing our grants portfolio.

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Sharon Burleigh Group Manager Funding & Contract Management
Emily Sullivan
Emily Sullivan Funding Engagement Specialist Passionately supporting innovators to drive a better future

I'm a Funding Engagement Specialist working with customers seeking financial support for their business. At heart, I am an unapologetic science geek, driven by a profound passion for supporting innovators.

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Emily Sullivan Funding Engagement Specialist
Mun Kong Lee
Mun-Kong Lee Funding Engagement Specialist Facilitating storytelling within grant applications

My work as a Funding Engagement Specialist at Callaghan Innovation is supported by my background as a Chartered Accountant and MBA and experience from both the private and public sectors.   My primary work focus is guiding our customers through writing cohesive grant applications.

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Mun-Kong Lee Funding Engagement Specialist
Rafael Lee
Rafael Lee Funding Engagement Specialist Driven by purpose to bring innovation to life

I'm one of the Funding Engagement Specialists interfacing between Callaghan Innovation and our customers. My core skills lie in system thinking, process design, and facilitation. These enable me to engage effectively with our stakeholders and navigate the complex project challenges that arise.

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Rafael Lee Funding Engagement Specialist
Rhonda Vincent
Rhonda Vincent Funding Engagement Specialist Guiding collaborations towards actionable solutions

I am a Funding Engagement Specialist at Callaghan Innovation helping align customers with the best funding for their situation and needs. Through my expertise in networking and connecting like-minded individuals, I excel in guiding collaborations which develop and communicate simple actionable solutions from complex situations.

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Rhonda Vincent Funding Engagement Specialist
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If you’re new to R&D Career Grants, please contact our Customer Support team.

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If you’ve applied in the past, or have previously received other funding from Callaghan Innovation, you can start your application on our online Grants Portal.

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