26 March 2013

ARC CEO Professor Aidan Byrne

Image courtesy: Norman Plant Photography


Welcome to the first edition of ARChway (see what we did there?)! This monthly newsletter will bring you the latest from the Australian Research Council (ARC), on current issues in research funding, and will bring to your attention some of the exciting research that is taking place in Australia today. The idea behind the name ARChway for this newsletter is that the ARC opens doors to research.

Since I started at the ARC in July 2012, I have been fortunate to be given an integrated view of the research sector, and have spoken with a very large number of those that actively take part in it, each with their own view of where things are going and how the sector could be improved. It is exciting to be witness to such a volume of good ideas and enthusiasm for a future that we are building together.

Although the ARC administers only about 10% of the total government spend on research and development, the effect in the sector is significant. As always each year presents new challenges. This year will see the last of the scheduled rounds of the Future Fellowships scheme, which completes its five year term in 2013. This year will also see a new Centres of Excellence round, which is a major investment for us, and will launch a new fleet of intensive research centres that will be active for years to come.

I am proud that our Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2012 Report—released in December 2012—reveals the strength of our university research sector. The report also shows the positive effect of the 18% increase in Federal funding for competitive grants—over $3.75 billion in the ERA 2012 reference period (2008–2010 for income) and over $3.18 billion in the ERA 2010 reference period (2006–2008). Importantly, the 2012 evaluation shows that this investment is predominantly, and increasingly, in areas that are rated at world class or better, and the overall standard of the ratings is improving.

The ARC supports the very best ideas that the sector can bring to us, from researchers who are making their first strides in a new field or putting the capstone on a lifetime of achievement. I can see that all our programs make a difference to the research community, and by tailoring these to the challenges of the future, we can help to ensure that we are leading the world in innovative ideas.

Enjoy reading this first edition of ARChway. This month we feature some inspiring stories about ARC-funded research making inroads across a number of research priorities including the environment and health. We are always on the lookout for great research stories so please send them in!