23 December 2014

Major Grants 2014 speakers

Image: At the 2015 ARC Major Grants Announcment (L-R) Dr Linda Ford, Dr Margaret Shanafield, Professor Brian Yates (ARC), the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Professor Marian Simms (ARC), Professor Benjamin Cazzolato, Dr Lyn English.
Image credit: Russell Millard photography.

The ARC’s major grants ceremony was held on 5 November at a ceremony at Flinders at Victoria Square in Adelaide.

The Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, announced the successful grant recipients for funding commencing in 2015. The 2015 ARC major grants announcement included:

  • $250 million for 665 projects under the Discovery Projects scheme
  • $70.6 million for 200 projects under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award scheme
  • $4.4 million for ten projects under the Discovery Indigenous scheme
  • $29 million for 66 projects under the Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme.

The 941 projects funded cover a broad range of research areas, including: school curriculum—to improve our education system; 3D imaging and printing—to deliver better health and industry outcomes; improving plant diversity—to enhance crop yields; and preserving Indigenous heritage.

Minister Pyne said upon announcing the grants that a positive investment in research funding was crucial for building a strong nation.

“The Australian Government has committed to building a world-class education and research sector as one of the five pillars of a stronger, more productive and prosperous Australia.

“This Government deeply values the need for a robust and thriving research sector that drives the future development of our industries.

“The $354 million allocated to these 941 projects today is an important investment in high-quality research that will deliver benefits to the nation,” Mr Pyne said.

ARC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Professor Aidan Byrne, said the annual announcement was a highlight on the ARC calendar and some extremely high quality projects were funded in the 2015 round.

“There was a great deal of interest in this announcement, not just from those who had applied for funding and their respective universities, but also from the broader sector in terms of the ARC’s success rates.

“It is fair to say that there has been some impact on success rates as a consequence of the budget reprioritisation and efficiency dividend, however I was extremely pleased that the ARC was able to achieve a success rate of 18% for our Discovery Projects scheme.

“While the success rate is slightly lower than last year (19.9%), it also reflects increased demand. It is important to note that this has occurred without affecting another important parameter, the return rate; that is, the funding approved for a project compared to the amount requested.

“For Discovery Projects commencing in 2015 the return rate is 64.2%, which is actually slightly higher than the result of 63.8% achieved in 2014.

“One of the fine balancing acts required of our ARC panels is to get the right mix between supporting the maximum number of applications at the same time as ensuring that a particular project has sufficient resources to undertake the work proposed. 

“If the return rate falls too low then a spiral of ambit bidding occurs escalating the problem. If the success rates fall too low this creates further tension in the system, particularly around the effort-to-return ratio for researchers.

“I often emphasise this point as I visit academics across the nation. Applicants must be very considered about what they request. A commitment on the ARC’s part is to ensure that return rates remain as high as possible. A failure of a number of proposals this year—particularly those requesting large amount of resources—was not sufficiently justifying the need for funds.

“The ARC’s National Competitive Grants Program is extremely competitive and the ARC’s assessment cycle is robust.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our hard-working College of Experts, Selection Advisory Committees and reviewers who take the assessment task very seriously. Without their expert guidance our robust, peer-reviewed system would not succeed.”

For more information about the 2015 ARC Major Grants Announcement, including statistics and full project details please visit the ARC website or view the ARC media announcement kit.