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MFA Contestable Fund

In 2021, the Marine Farming Association (MFA) established a Contestable Fund (the Fund) to encourage innovation and research within the New Zealand aquaculture industry.

1. What is the Contestable Fund?

MFA is offering up to $40,000 for companies or individuals to develop products, services or projects
that will benefit a range of MFA members and/or the wider aquaculture industry.
The Fund is overseen by the MFA Research, Development and Technology sub-committee (RDTSC) and the Environment & Compliance sub-committee (ECSC). The Contestable Fund is designed to help these sub-committees meet their objectives by providing seed funding to appropriate initiatives. The objectives of the RDTSC are to identify, facilitate and promote R&D priorities, share findings and engage with relevant research programmes. The objectives of the ECSC are to ensure compliance, improve industry practice and sustainability, whilst educating and promoting ways that the industry can be more environmentally friendly.

2. MFA Priorities and Guidelines

Applications to the Fund must address at least one of the priorities listed below. Preference will be given to projects covering more than one priority and/or projects that benefit the Te Tau Ihu (Top of the South) aquaculture industry.

Research & Innovation Priorities:

• Increasing productivity and production
• Implementation of research findings (i.e. commercialising science)
• Developing digital technologies for use in the marine farming industry
• Developing new farming systems
• Improved spat health
• Spat retention
• Developing new uses for existing farmed species
• Maximising the value of existing species farmed by MFA members (Pacific oysters, salmon,
• Maximising the value generated by existing water space
• Addressing emerging issues

Note: research and development relating to new aquaculture species is not included in the scope as
there are other sources of funding for such R&D. Research relating to co-culture or polyculture with
new species is included within the scope, provided that the research component funded by the Fund
is related to production of existing species in a polyculture/co-culture arrangement.

Environment and Sustainability Priorities:

• Reducing vessel noise
• Minimising light spill
• Working towards zero waste from marine farming activities
• Recycling and repurposing of marine waste, tools and equipment
• Reducing the volume of waste destined for landfill
• Restoration of marine habitats and ecosystems
• Communicating the benefits of aquaculture
• Advancing restorative aquaculture practices
• Supporting the industry to adapt to climate change
• Reducing micro-plastics in the marine environment.

3. Eligibility

The MFA contestable fund is open to all New Zealand citizens and residents, and anyone studying at a New Zealand tertiary institution. Any project/proposal funded by the MFA Contestable Fund must benefit the aquaculture industry, with priority given to applications specifically benefiting Top of the South aquaculture.

4. Assessment of Applications

Each application will be assessed by a Panel comprising of the Chair of the RTDSC, the Chair of the ECSC and the MFA General Manager. The recommendations from the Panel will then be taken to the MFA Board for final approval. When assessing applications, the Panel will consider whether the applicant has:
• Addressed one or more of the ‘priorities’ identified in Section 2 above.
• Adequately described the project/research and how it will benefit the aquaculture industry.
• The skills, capacity and experience required to successfully deliver the project.
• Included a realistic budget and timeline.
• Has realistic plans to leverage the seed funding to maximise the research scope, e.g. through
accessing other funding sources, leveraging other assets or relationships etc.

Applicants who are selected for further consideration will then be invited to discuss their proposal with the Panel members. 

The decisions made by the Panel are final, and no right of reply of further correspondence will be
entered into with unsuccessful applicants.

5. Intellectual Property

It is a condition of the Fund that any new intellectual property developed during the course of the
research covered by the Fund will be made available royalty free in perpetuity to MFA members.
This provision does not apply to intellectual property developed prior to the award of the Fund, to
third party intellectual property embodied in third party devices and software used in the research,
nor to elements of the research that are not directly supported by the Fund. 

6. Acceptance of Funding

If successful, applicants acknowledge and agree to the following:
• That MFA funding will be used on the project for which it was awarded.
• That the recipient will provide content for MFA comms (i.e. website and Newsletter) and will
acknowledge MFA in their own reporting.
• The recipient acknowledges that MFA reserves the right to withhold any payments if it deems
(a) The recipient has not fully complied with the conditions of the MFA Fund.
(b) The recipient’s actions, whether intentional or accidental, have or may bring MFA
and/or the contestable fund into disrepute.
• Any taxes, (including any income tax, GST and or other) that may be due in relation to receipt of
the MFA Contestable Fund is the responsibility of the recipient. 

6. Other MFA Support

In addition to the Fund, MFA will provide the following support to the funded application:
• Contacts – MFA will assist the researcher to identify key contacts of relevance to the research
and will assist with introductions as appropriate.
• Additional Funding – MFA will provide a letter of support to relevant applications for additional
• Review – if requested by the researcher MFA will nominate one or more MFA members to assist
with industry knowledge and to provide practical input into the research.
• Outreach – MFA will provide opportunities for informing Members of the outcomes through the
MFA member’s newsletter and will assist with identifying other channels.



1st April 2024

Applications open

31st May 2024

Applications close

June 2024

Shortlisted applications are invited to interview

30th June 2024

Funding is awarded

Email application forms to