An attempt to create an artificial nose based on the keen sense of smell of insects is among projects to win grants in the latest round of the Marsden Fund.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said the projects would generate knowledge with long-term benefits for New Zealand.
Research into self-healing plastics at the University of Auckland is tipped to open unprecedented opportunities for medical devices, prosthetics and robotics.
A project working around how computers recognise spoken words and classify visual information, from the University of Waikato, will also be funded.
More than $53 million of funding has been granted to 92 projects over the next three years.
The Marsden Fund is more than 20 years old and supports research in science, engineering, mathematics, social sciences and the humanities.