Applications are now closed for R&D Experience Grants in 2023, and will re-open in August 2024.

New Zealand’s eager, hardworking students are hungry for knowledge and experience. Not just from their lecturers and teachers, but eager to learn from the scientists, engineers and practitioners - just like you - who are innovating out there in the real world.

The R&D Experience Grant was created to fund innovative businesses to employ tertiary-level students (NZQA levels 6-10) as full-time interns over their summer break, and help prepare them for their own innovative careers.

You’ll embed 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, demonstrating how science, technology, engineering and design works inside a business and plays a key part in creating appealing products and services. 

In return you’ll get access to inquisitive minds and fresh thinking that will help you overcome research challenges and accelerate the development of your products or services.

The aim is to create a new generation of Kiwi innovators, dreaming big and having a positive impact on Aotearoa New Zealand. Who knows, you might inspire the next Sir Paul Callaghan. And you might learn a thing or two as well.

By the numbers

1300 +
students supported in 2021

Benefits to your business

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Support future talent

Share knowledge and develop the innovators of tomorrow.

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Introduce fresh thinking

Inquisitive student minds, helping you think outside of the box.

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Accelerate R&D projects

Get a helping hand to progress your research and development projects.

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Pay the Living Wage

Grant payment equivalent to the Living Wage for the internship period.

Is this right for me?

Business eligibility

To apply for the grant, your business should be able to offer an R&D position which provides the student with 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 on the payroll (you must provide payslips at claiming (note: public and statutory holidays are supported within the funding).
    • Pay the student a minimum of $26.00 per hour.

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. Businesses can apply for a maximum of 10 R&D Experience Grant students, as long as the student/R&D personnel ratio is met for all active student grants (Fellowship Grant, Career Grant or Experience Grant).

Student eligibility

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

  • Studying, or has recently completed, an undergraduate or postgraduate degree or qualification at NZQA level 6-10. If the study has been completed, the closing date of their final semester should be less than 12 months ago.
  • Studying, or has studied, science, technology, engineering, design or business at a New Zealand tertiary education institute.
  • Legally permitted to work in New Zealand.
  • Has not been previously employed at the business in either a full-time or part-time permanent position (temporary short-term employment is permitted).
  • Has not undertaken more than two R&D Experience Grant internships with the same business.

For 2023 - 2024: Eligible businesses will receive funding of $10,400 (plus GST) for 400 hours of full-time work upon proof of payment to the student. Public holidays and statutory holidays are included within this funding. Under the grant scheme, participating students will receive a minimum of $26.00 per hour. 

Businesses can apply for an R&D Experience Grant prior to identifying a suitable student.

Applications for R&D Experience Grants are currently closed. They will reopen ahead of the Summer break.

If you wish to discuss the grant ahead of then, please contact our Customer Service Team.

Businesses applying for the R&D Experience Grant are also responsible for recruiting eligible students. We’d actively encourage you to advertise the summer internship 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 Experience 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 the current 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.

Depending on the size and capability of its R&D team, a business may receive multiple Student Experience Grants at one time.

A business can apply for up to ten Experience Grant students each year if the ratio of two R&D FTEs for each student is met. The exception is when the business has only one R&D FTE - in this case one student can be applied for.


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R&D Experience Grant
Resource Hub

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

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

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Emily Sullivan
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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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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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If you’re new to R&D Experience 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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