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Research grants

EQC supports the development of risk reduction science with two main contestable grants programmes:

EQC Biennial Research Funding Programme

Every two years, EQC’s Biennial Grants programme invites experienced and emerging researchers to submit proposals for public good research (available for public use).

We invite research applications that are relevant to the scope of EQC’s role as defined by the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 and EQC’s Research Investment Priorities Statement.

Applying to the Biennial Grants programme for a grant is a two-step process. Applications for the next round of Biennial Grants will open in 2022 for the 2023 grants.

University Research Programme

Since the 1990s, EQC has provided funding to tertiary institutions across New Zealand. This funding has helped to support research capability in natural disaster and risk reduction research. Faculty positions at four New Zealand universities (Auckland, Victoria, Canterbury and Massey) are currently supported to:

  • provide vision and leadership in relevant fields of scholarship
  • develop academic and research capability
  • create and share knowledge.

From 2020/21, EQC’s funding for tertiary institutions will be based on the delivery of a three-year research programme that aligns with EQC’s Resilience Strategy and its research priorities. Capability development will continue to be an important component of research programme delivery, however EQC will also be seeking a greater focus on:

  • research that is targeted to EQC’s goals and priorities
  • contribution to better outcomes for New Zealanders
  • end user and/or stakeholder collaboration and partnerships
  • a greater partnership approach with EQC.

The programme will run from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2023.

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Applying for the University Research Programme 2020

New Zealand tertiary institutions with expertise in hazard science and resilience are invited to submit funding proposals to EQC for Research Programmes for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2023.

More on applying

The Request for Proposal (RFP) outlines the process and associated requirements for submission and assessment of funding proposals. The RFP document should be read in conjunction with EQC’s Resilience Strategy for Natural Hazard Risk Reduction 2019-2029 and the Research Investment Priorities Statement 2020-2021

EQC’s current investment in university-based science research and researchers is highly regarded and greatly valued. As a large proportion of its science investment portfolio is due for renewal in June 2020, EQC is taking the opportunity ensure that its research and capability development investment is aligned to the Resilience Strategy, and that it is meeting internal and external resilience knowledge needs.

EQC is also intending to introduce a more active monitoring and measurement regime to evaluate the impact of its funding. The aim is to provide consistent funding for researchers while ensuring EQC’s research agenda is delivered.

EQC will provide investigator briefings at New Zealand tertiary institutions from early November to explain the programme reset, expectations and process, and to answer any questions. These briefings are open to all interested parties and potential applicants are encouraged to attend.

Applicants who are unable to attend a briefing, or who have any other questions, can contact EQC by emailing us at

Proposals are to be submitted to EQC by 12 Noon Friday 7 February 2020 through the following link: University Research Programme 2020-2023 application form

Successful/unsuccessful applicants will be notified by 6 March 2020, with contracts completed by May 2020. Funding will be available from 1 July 2020.

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Biennial Grants 2020 winners

We have awarded grants to 16 projects covering a wide range of topics for the 2020 Biennial Grant round. The next round of Biennial Grants will be for 2022. Applications will open in 2021.

More on 2020 winners

2020 Biennial Grant projects

Project Researcher
A fuzzy approach to understanding multi-fault earthquakes

Dr Tim Stahl – University of Canterbury

Application of AI to advance structural performance and resiliency quantification Dr Max Stephens – University of Auckland

Community led low-cost micro-seismic (MS) sensor network applications for Earthquake Early Warning (EEW)

Dr Raj Prasanna – Massey University

Determining ability for ground improvement to improve seismic foundation performance through full scale field testing

Dr Lucas Hogan – University of Auckland
Frictional strength and stability of greywacke fault zones Dr Carolyn Boulton - Victoria University of Wellington

Geodetic and hydrological controls on seismic velocity changes after large earthquakes

Professor Martha Savage – Victoria University of Wellington
High resolution basement mapping beneath Wellington City based on gravity anomaly and borehole data

Professor Tim Stern - Victoria University of Wellington

Improved constraint on past Hikurangi subduction earthquake rupture dimensions using a locally derived marine reservoir correction

Dr Kate Clark - GNS Science
Paleoseismology of the newly discovered Te Puninga Fault, Hauraki Plains Dr Pilar Villamor - GNS Science
Physics-based ground motion modelling for the urban Wellington region: Basin-edge effects and implications for seismic design Professor Brendon Bradley – University of Canterbury
Seismic performance of multi-storey cross- laminated timber shear wall structures with high- capacity anchoring systems Dr Minghao Li – University of Canterbury

Seismic strengthening of reinforced concrete walls in existing buildings with fibre-reinforced polymer materials

Dr Enrique Del Rey Castillo – University of Auckland
Towards near-real-time volcano monitoring with next-generation ambient noise techniques Dr Chris van Houtte - GNS Science
Towards real-time probabilistic ash deposition forecasting for New Zealand Dr Natalia Deligne - GNS Science

Understanding organisations’ perceptions of obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 in relation to seismic hazards

Dr Tracy Hatton - Resilient Organisations
Understanding the seismic performance of structural insulated panels for use in New Zealand Dr David Carradine - BRANZ
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Biennial Grants 2018 winners

16 projects with a wide range of subject matter were successful the 2018 Biennial Grant round.

More on 2018 winners
Project Researcher

How is the ground still moving in response to the Kaikoura earthquake?
(Post-seismic deformation following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake)

Dr Sigrun Hreinsdottir, GNS Science

Has the Kaikoura earthquake “loaded up” some faults in the region, and lowered stress on others?
(How did the Kaikoura earthquake affect the stress in and around the ruptured region?)

Professor Martha Savage, Victoria University of Wellington

What can changes to the ground along the Kekerengu Fault during the Kaikoura quake tell us about future risk?
(Encoding earthquake ruptures into the stratigraphic record: Changes in near-surface structure of the Kekerengu Fault zone before vs. after the Kaikoura earthquake)

Professor Tim Little, Victoria University of Wellington

Can we use the history of earthquakes on faults to help forecast future earthquakes? 
(Can concepts of the seismic cycle be used to forecast future large-magnitude earthquakes in New Zealand?)

Professor Andy Nicol, University of Canterbury

Developing better ways to detect aftershocks to improve forecasting of further aftershocks. 
(Filling in the gaps: Improving earthquake catalogues to improve forecasting)

Dr Calum Chamberlain, Victoria University of Wellington

What does the impact of the Kaikoura earthquake on the East Coast seafloor tell us about the likelihood of the Hikurangi big one?”
(Using marine sediment flows triggered by the Kaikoura earthquake to measure the earthquake recording potential of sea floor sediments along the Hikurangi margin)

Dr Jamie Howarth, Victoria University of Wellington

Using the latest simulation techniques to understand the strong shaking in Wellington city during the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake – and implications for future earthquakes. 
(Advancing physics based ground motion modelling of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake: Modelling basin-edge effects in Wellington and proposed implications for seismic design)

Professor Brendon Bradley, University of Canterbury

Developing and testing a technique to quickly define the properties of the soil profile across a region to enable a better understanding of the potential earthquake shaking. (“Rapid” geophysical characterisation of New Zealand’s sedimentary basins using the horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio method)

Professor Liam Wotherspoon, University of Auckland

How do earthquakes liquefy gravelly soil – and how can we minimise the risk? 
(Site characterisation and liquefaction potential of Blenheim gravelly sandy deposits)

Dr Gabriele Chiaro, University of Canterbury

Modelling volcanic surge for Auckland volcanoes
(A new model of volcanic surge for New Zealand)

Dr Stuart Mead, Massey University

Using drones to get data from the heart of White Island’s volcano cloud.  
(Measuring and monitoring volcanic ash plumes using unmanned aerial vehicles)

Dr Ian Schipper, Victoria University of Wellington

Using drones with 3D modelling to monitor selected Auckland landslides
(Rapid, cost-effective 3D monitoring of urban landslide displacements)

Dr Martin Brook, University of Auckland

Are current house foundation building standards good enough for houses built on slopes when there is an earthquake? 
(Progressive failure of house foundations on slopes in earthquakes)

Graeme Beattie, BRANZ

How could New Zealanders use an earthquake early warning system? 
(Understanding potential social and damage avoidance benefits of earthquake early warning in New Zealand)

Dr Julia Becker, GNS Science and Massey University

How can migrants be better included in efforts to reduce the impact of disasters in New Zealand? (Engaging South Asian and Chinese migrants in disaster risk reduction in New Zealand)

Dr Nadia Charania, Auckland University of Technology

Mapping tsunami flows in Porirua City.  (Comprehensive land use planning for tsunami)

Dr Wendy Saunders, GNS Science


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