How Research is Funded

Find out whose paying for the research conducted 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.

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!

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.

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.

Examples include:

  • 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

There are many organisations (none of them NZ-based) that provide 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.27
  • Animal Free Research Switzerland.28
  • Animal Free Research UK (in total they have funded 260 projects since 1970).29
  • The Humane Research Trust UK.30
  • 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.31
  • 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.32
  • The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC).33

With your help we can end animal experimentation in Aotearoa.