Te Puiaki Pūtaiao Matua a te Pirimia

The Prime Minister’s Science Prize 2021


Kia ora

Applications are not open yet (date to be announced for 2021). Information below could change or be updated in the interim.

About this Prize

  • This Prize is for a transformative scientificdiscovery or achievement, which has had a significant economic, health, social, and/or environmental impact on New Zealand, or internationally. It will be awarded to an individual or team instrumental in creating the impact. While the research behind the discovery or achievement may have occurred over any time-period, to be eligible there must be a clear indication that the impact on New Zealand or internationally has taken place.
1 Scientific should be interpreted broadly to include natural, physical, mathematical and information sciences, applied science, technology, engineering, social science and multi-disciplinary science


  • The total prize is worth $500,000.
  • $100,000  of this will go directly to the individual or team with no expectations.
  • $400,000 will be to support on going research.



  • Individuals or teams are invited to enter for this Prize. For a team entry, one person must be designated as the ‘Team Representative’. This person will need to be prepared to be the public face of the discovery or achievement. This will include receiving the Prize, speaking with the media, and carrying out tasks appropriate for a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize.
  • The individual applicant or nominated team representative must be either a New Zealand citizen or a New Zealand permanent resident, currently domiciled in New Zealand, and be active in their field of science.
  • The research behind the discovery or achievement must have met current standards of ethical practice and have been carried out largely in New Zealand.
  • Re-application by individuals or teams from previous years is encouraged as long as the eligibility criteria continue to be met. However, past winners of the Prize will not be eligible to enter a second time.


Selection Criteria

Judging for the prize will be based on one criteria:

To what extent has this transformative scientifcdiscovery or achievement  led to significant economic, health, social and/or environmental impact on or for New Zealand, or internationally?

This may be evidenced in a variety of ways, for example;

  • Successful development and deployment of new or improved products, processes, or services (including public services) based on the research.
  • Advancement of Mātauranga Māori.
  • Major changes to practice in an important professional community or an industrial, business, infrastructural or service sector, at least at a national level.
  • Major changes in relevant public policy and/or government investment or operational strategy, for example in health, social policy, environmental protection, conservation, education, justice or emergency management.
  • Significantly increased investment in the research programme over an extended period of time by potential or actual technology transfer partners or end users.
  • Significant changes in the way a body of knowledge is organised and used (as a result of challenging previous conventional wisdom).
  • Development of new methods that have advanced research practice in the relevant discipline.
  • A high level of recognition through peer review processes, for example through publication in leading journals and the award or prizes.

This list is non-exclusive, and not all evidence forms will be appropriate for any particular application. Each applicant should set out in the application statement the nature of the transformative scientifc1 discovery/achievement, and of the impact. The statement should cross-reference an uploaded Evidence Portfolio.

Assessment may include, at the judges’ discretion, consideration of referees’ statements, interview of key personnel or a site visit.


Entry process

  • Applications must be complete by 5pm, 24 September.
  • The Application must be completed by the applicant (if it is an individual entry) or by an agreed team representative if it is a team entry.
  • Information must include qualitative and quantitative evidence explaining how it meets the selection criteria.
  • Evidence might include, for example, patents (pending or granted) and/or seminal papers published (including impact factor and citations)  and/or clinical trials (and what stage they are at) and/or outcomes from the industry or sector the entry is working in.
  • Applicants will be asked to agree to a declaration that any information on the entry form may be used in publicity for the Prize (see Confidentiality).



  • The entry must be endorsed by two international referees and two New Zealand referees who will give their expert opinion about the impact of the discovery for a transformative scientificdiscovery or achievement. This may be evidenced in a variety of ways (see selection criteria).
  • Please note that comments from referees must be evidence based.
  • Referees must not be collaborators.
  • The Selection Panel at its sole discretion, may request further referees or make contact with outside parties.  The panel  also reserves the right to hold interviews to help inform their decision.

Please note that information submitted may be subject to the Official Information Act.



The secretariat gives no undertaking to keep confidential any information provided in the on-line entry form unless this is identified as information that should be treated as such. Information may, for example, be used to prepare promotional material for the Prize in future years.


Selection Panel

An independent selection panel is selected by the secretariat and the Prime Minister’s decision to present the Prize will have regard to the advice of the selection panel.

It is recognised that occasionally members of the selection panel will know applicants or have other conflicts of interest. They will be expected to declare all such knowledge and conflicts of interest. In cases where an applicant is the colleague of a panelist, the Chair of the selection panel will rule if this conflict is significant enough for the panelist to be stood down from the panel for that entry. (In the case of the Chair having a conflict of interest the decision will be made by another member of the panel who has been identified in this role at the beginning of the process).

The selection panel will not enter into any correspondence concerning its deliberations. All inquiries should be directed to the secretariat. Note that information on matters such as ranking, or names of unsuccessful entrants, will not be disclosed. If you require any other information the please email pmscienceprizes@royalsociety.org.nz

The Secretariat for The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes is Royal Society Te Apārangi

The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes
Royal Society Te Apārangi
PO Box 598

Tel: (04) 470 5762

Email: pmscienceprizes@royalsociety.org.nz



  • $400,000 of the Prize is to be used to support the on-going work of the individual or team. A plan for the use of this funding must be included (though this is not part of the selection criteria).
  •  $100,000 of the Prize money is available to the successful individual or team, with no expectations on its use.
  • The Individual or Team Representative receiving the Prize will be expected to be involved in promotional opportunities appropriate for a recipient of The Prime Minister’s Science Prize.



  • The winner or team is expected to make themselves available for half a day December/January to meet with the Prime Minister’s Science Prize media liaison personnel in preparation of media material and photos.
  • The winner will be announced in February/March/April.  (date to be confirmed)
  • The winner or team will be expected to make themselves available for that announcement in Wellington.


If you are ready to apply please click on the ‘Apply Now’