How Research is Funded in NZ

How Research is Funded in NZ

In most countries, some form of scientific research is conducted. Some places have stricter rules than others, but everywhere, the research needs to be paid for.

Research is funded by:

  • Government grants
  • Scholarships
  • Corporations and private companies
  • Foundations, Trusts, charities, and other institutions

Funding in NZ

Central government funding of science amounts to over 1 billion NZD per year, with total sector spending being about 4.5 billion NZD.There does not appear to be any government funding exclusively available for replacing the use of animals in science in NZ.

Stats New Zealand publishes information about the amount of money spent in the research and development (R&D) sector. Governmental and Higher education spending are assessed every two years. Below are the most recent figures we have from Stats New Zealand: 


Research and development expenditure in million NZD 

Sector (source of funds)




New Zealand Business (1)



 2,272 P

New Zealand Government (2)(3)



 1,224 P

Tertiary Education (4)



 513 P




 413 P

Other funding sources



 126 P

Total spent in all sectors



 4,549 P


The figures above don't include GST.

P     Provisional due to not all data being available at the time of publication
(1)  Includes businesses' own funds.
(2)  Includes New Zealand local government agencies.
(3)  Includes government entities' own funds.
(4)  Includes higher education entities' own funds.



In 2020 alone, the NZ Government spent around $1.2 billion on research and development in several sectors. NZ businesses spent almost double that. We have no way of knowing how much of this went into the use of animals – we did try and obtain this info with no luck!

As universities have annual reports available on their websites, we know their total research income (numbers are rounded for readability).

Via additional research we conducted, we were able to estimate that some universities spent between 5 to 14% of their research funds on the use of animals for science. Other universities had administration systems that would make this kind of tracking impossible.



Research Revenue

2021 in NZD

Auckland University of Technology2

22.1 million

Lincoln University3

32.3 million

Massey University4

79.6 million

University of Auckland5

217.4 million

University of Canterbury6

48.0 million

University of Otago7

156.1 million#
61.7 million*

University of Waikato8

41.4 million

Victoria University of Wellington9

89.0 million


#   Externally-funded research.
*   Performance-based research funding.


Some polytechnics and Institutes of Technology also use animals for science, spending a similar percentage of their research budget on this as NZ universities.


Government funding

The Ministry for Primary Industries has an annual research and development budget of around 130 million NZD.10

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) states in their 2021 budget investments of 56.12 million NZD over four years into science, research, and innovation.11

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) allocates general funding to universities based on several education criteria. They allocated nearly 50 million NZD to university research in 2020.12

According to Universities NZ,13 government tuition funding makes up 33% of university funding. Another 15% originates from research grants and other research income.


Non-government funding

Foundations, charities and other institutions fund many different types of research. For example, the National Heart Foundation funded research projects with 4.1 million NZD in 2021.14

Dairy NZ regularly funds agricultural research to mitigate emissions, maximise production or minimise fertility issues within the dairy industry. Their last annual report (2021/22) lists research and development costs of 34.2 million NZD.15 There are several other organisations funding agricultural research including Zoetis NZ, the Livestock Improvement Corporation Ltd and Meat & Wool New Zealand Ltd.

Foundations also fund lots of research, mostly specified for one research field, like the Foundation for Arable Research or the New Zealand Neurological Foundation.
More general funding opportunities are given by foundations like the Marsden NHS Foundation Trust or the NZ Foundation of Research Science and Technology.

Scholarships are made available by some organisations, like the C Alma Baker Postgraduate Scholarship or the Colin Holmes Dairy Scholarship.


Where is the funding for animal-free research in NZ?

While we don't know exactly how much funding is invested in animal-based research, we do know how much funding the government, universities, polytechnics and institutes of technology allocate specifically for animal-free Replacements: $0. 

Despite intensive research, we couldn't identify a single funding stream dedicated solely to animal-free research.

The only funding, we could find that mentions replacing the use of animals for science is the Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield Three Rs Award which provides 10,000 NZD every two years for a project that shows “significant commitment to implementing the [3Rs] principles.” This is an award for research that has already been conducted, rather than a fund for researchers to use or develop animal-free research methods. This award is funded by the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) and ANZCCART (NZ).16

We’ve been advised that funding for replacing the use of animals in science (or reducing and refining their use) is available via the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.17 However, this fund doesn’t mention anything explicit about replacing the use of animals in science.


Funding for animal-free research in other countries

Other countries are investing millions of dollars into animal-free research. For example:

  • The New South Wales Government of Australia launched a 7 million AUD (7.6NZD) fund targeting animals used in science. 4.5 million AUD will be directed towards replacing and reducing the use of animals in science, while the remaining 2.5 million AUD will go towards existing animals needing to be rehomed.18
  • The United Kingdom Government spent around 2 million GBP (~3.9 million NZD) of its research and development budget on animal-free research from 2019-2020.19 
  • The Swedish Research Council spent 15 million SEK (~2 million NZD) on animal-free research in 2020.20
  • The Government of Germany spends up to 20 million EUR (~35 million NZD) on animal-free research each year.21
  • The European Union (which encompasses 27 countries, including Germany, UK, France and Sweden) spends around 45 million EUR (~ 171.0 million NZD) every year on replacement research.22

Noteworthy example: The European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) was set up in 1991. It received approximately 36 million EUR (~ 137.0 million NZD) between 2012 and 2017,23 and continues to get EU funding of around 5 million EUR (~ 8.7 million NZD) yearly.24 EURL ECVAM activities include:

  • Conducting research, development and validation of alternative methods as well as regular workshops on the topics
  • Issuing statements and opinions via their Scientific Advisory Committee
  • Leading the development of test guidelines and guidance documents on alternative methods
  • The EURL ECVAM status report 2022 explains projects, outcomes and perspectives.25

In the US, specific institutions play a role. The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing has to date invested over 6 million USD (~ 10 million NZD) in over 300 grants for research relating to the replacement of animals. 26


3Rs Centres and Centres for Validation of Alternative Methods

The 3Rs are a set of guiding principles widely promoted by the animal experimentation industry. The 3 Rs are: 

  1. The Refinement of scientific techniques.
  2. The Reduction in the number of animals used.
  3. The Replacement of animal procedures with non-animal procedures.

Note: We agree with 1R — the full replacement of animal experimentation and harmful use of animals in science. Learn more here.

Many countries have established dedicated 3Rs Centres or are in the process of doing so including:

  • The Finnish Hub for Development and Validation of Integrated Approaches (FHAIVE).27
  • The German Centre for Documentation and Evaluation of Alternatives to Animal Experiments (ZEBET).28
  • The Japanese Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (JaCVAM).29
  • The Swiss 3R Competence Centre.30
  • The Danish 3R-Centre.31
  • The 3Rs-Centre of the Netherlands.32
  • NC3Rs UK.33
  • The Swedish 3Rs Centre.34
  • Norway's National Consensus Platform for the advancement of the 3Rs (Norecopa).35
  • The Belgian Innovation Centre 3R Alternatives (IC-3Rs).36
  • The U.S. NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM).37

The duties of these centres can include national and international collaboration, research, providing advice, creating databases, running or attending workshops and conferences as well as testing services.

Aotearoa, New Zealand does not have a 3Rs centre.


Other funding pathways

There are many different organisations providing funding for animal-free research including:

  • The Medical Advances Without Animals Trust (MAWA) in Australia. They also formed a partnership with The Australian National University to establish The Australian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Research.38
  • AnimalFree Research Switzerland.39
  • AnimalFree Research UK (in total they have funded 260 projects since 1970).40
  • The Humane Research Trust UK.41
  • The UK Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME). They also run their own Alternatives Laboratory and publish the Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA) journal.42
  • CAAT - Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (they have funded over 300 grants with more than 6 million USD (~ 9.7 million NZD) all over the world.43
  • The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC).44


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