Continuously linking researchers and industry

Our first grants announcements for 2017

The ARC has announced two rounds of grants funded under the Linkage Projects scheme, which is now running a continuous application and assessment process.

The first four successful Linkage Projects grants awarded through the new fast-track process were announced on Monday, 30 January 2017, followed by an additional 11 grants in a second announcement on 24 February 2017.

The latest funding supports research projects into high fidelity 3D printing, a new investigation into the impact of mild dementia on driving performance, a study of park designs to improve health and wellbeing, a project to develop a 4D tectonic geography framework to support the effective exploration of the Australian McArthur Basin, and many more.

The first announcement involved research to improve our railway network, improve mineral extraction from waste ores, optimise the sintering process during iron ore processing, and improve the environmental impacts of coal seam gas developments.

All these research projects are characterised by the initiative of researchers and industry in sparking new research collaborations. Each research project demonstrates how the Linkage Projects scheme leverages support from industry partners to work on commercially important projects with real-world outcomes.

The combined ARC funding from both announcements is $6.8 million, with six projects awarded to The University of Melbourne, four to The University of Queensland, and one each to the Curtin University of Technology, the Queensland University of Technology, The University of Adelaide, the University of Tasmania, and the University of Wollongong. This is in addition to $81.2 million already awarded for the Linkage Projects 2016 round in May 2016.

In this issue of ARChway, we feature an article about Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna, whose research team at the University of Wollongong received a grant as part of the first Linkage Projects funding announcement in January, and is now working to strengthen our rail network through an improved understanding of the process known as ‘mud pumping’.

In a media release to accompany this first announcement, Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham noted that “These new Linkage Projects involve significant collaboration between university researchers and partner organisations who have provided matching cash and in-kind contributions that demonstrate a commitment to Australia’s future.”

These are just the first two of many more announcements that will be made throughout the year, under the new continuous application and assessment process for the Linkage Projects scheme.

How does the continuous process differ from the previous Linkage Projects process?

The continuous application and assessment process for the Linkage Projects scheme was implemented on 1 July 2016 as an outcome of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), in order to allow a closer connection between proposal submission and outcome announcement. Proposals can be submitted at any time, and are progressed for assessment once they are submitted in RMS, rather than having to wait for a scheduled annual selection meeting.

So that the ARC can inform applicants of grant outcomes as soon as possible, high and low-ranked proposals are fast-tracked through the assessment process with outcomes announced as early as possible after submission. All other proposals are announced within six months of submission.

As the process is new, we are constantly monitoring and looking to improve it, and are very keen for feedback from the research sector, and to answer your questions.

The first question many people ask the ARC about a scheme with no opening and closing dates is “When should I apply?”. The answer is simply anytime. Applicants should apply when their application and all of the participants are ready to proceed. It is worth noting, however, that the funding rules will be updated at the end of each calendar year, and applicants should be aware of any changes in the rules that might affect their proposal.

Further information about the current Linkage Projects can be found on the ARC website.