Contracting and Variations
Information on how contracting and variations for Catalyst Fund recipients
If you have been awarded a Catalyst Fund award, you will receive notification from your Research Office.
Requests for contract variations must be submitted to International.Applications@royalsociety.org.nz by the host organisation's research office. For institutions that do not have their own Contract Variation Form please use ours. Variations must be approved by the Society in response to significant changes to the proposed research project, milestones, or the active involvement of key personnel.
Update on Covid-19-related Catalyst contract variations
The impact of Covid-19 affects many contracted milestones under Catalyst: Leaders and Catalyst: Seeding, in particular the inability to travel internationally and time lost during periods of lock down. The options available for varying Catalyst contracts impacted by Covid-19 are outlined below. The options must be considered in the listed order, i.e. the Society will not consider an extension under option 2 unless we have been convinced that a reshaping/refocus of the project as discussed under option 1 has been considered, but is not possibly.
1) Moving unspent travel expenses to other allowable expenses but no change to the contract end date.
Despite the inability to travel internationally, it is still possible to maintain links with international collaboration partners through other means, e.g. by regular video meetings. Where possible, Catalyst contract holders should reshape/refocus the contracted work in a way that allows as much as possible of the originally planned work to continue without the planned international travel activities, while still maintaining close links with the international collaboration partner(s). In this case, unspent travel costs can be used for other allowable expenses* related to the project without the need for a formal variation. However, we do require an update on the changes undertaken in the next due contract report.
*Please refer to the latest Catalyst guidelines for information on allowable expenses. In addition, New Zealand quarantine fees for Catalyst project team members visiting, or returning to, New Zealand for activities related to their funded Catalyst project, is an allowable expense under Catalyst: Seeding and Catalyst: Leaders.
2) No-cost contract extension for up to 12 months
Where needed, the Society will extend Catalyst contracts impacted by Covid-19 by up to 12 months. This extension is irrespective of whether a contract previously has been extended for non-Covid-19-mediated reasons. The Society would normally expect this extra time to be used to reshape and refocus the project as discussed above, with a view to having all work completed by the new completion date.
3) No-cost contract extension beyond an initial 12 months*
The Society may, under special circumstances, approve Catalyst contract extension for longer than 12 months. For this to be approved, the Society must be convinced:
that all contracted objectives can be completed before the proposed contract end date; and
that the proposed extension will materially add or sustain value to the project; and
that no other options for reshaping and/or refocussing the project is, or has been, possible.
*Please note that for a variation under 3 to be approved, the outcomes must be “substantially” better than what can be achieved by other remedial actions that can be taken to mitigate for the inability to travel internationally. Other remedial actions could include regular Video conferencing meetings (e.g., Zoom huitopa) instead of face-to-face meetings, shipping samples instead of sending personnel to laboratories, etc.
While we appreciate the value of meeting face-to-face, the current situation is that our borders remain closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot easily keep contracts open indefinitely until borders re-open. There must be a compelling reason to keep a contract open for more than 12 months. It is therefore very unlikely that a contract variation will be approved for a variation request that simply states there is more value in meeting face-to-face than via Zoom. Instead, we are asking contract holders to get the best out of the current situation through consideration of modifications to their projects where at all possible.
General Catalyst contract variation advice
There is an expectation that all contracted activities will be completed before the contract completion date. The approval of contract extensions will be limited to special circumstances:
- that are clearly outside the control of all participating personnel, e.g. a medical emergency and/ or
- where the Society is convinced that an extension will materially add or sustain value from the project and all project outcomes will be achieved.
The Society therefore strongly recommends that contract holders ensure that all travel exchanges have been planned well in advance to avoid delays caused by teaching schedules etc. by either New Zealand or overseas personnel.