The Marsden Fund for "blue skies" research has awarded more than $54.5 million to 86 science projects - including one providing the mathematics for an American "invisibility" project.
The fund - made up of taxpayers' money - handed out independently by the Royal Society, based on the excellence of the proposed research, rather than any specific economic benefits it may bring.
This year's projects include research into how the ozone hole affects the weather, why some birds fly north at different times than others and the mathematics to underpin efforts to "cloak" objects by bending light rays around them.
The Marsden Fund Council says more than 1100 people applied for the grants and it is extremely impressed with the quality of applicants.
It says many of the ideas are high risk but it expects some of the projects to make a big difference to New Zealand.