Major Grants Announcement

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The ARC’s Major Grants Announcement by Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham on 1 November 2016 was a cause to celebrate for the recipients of over 989 new research projects worth $416.6 million across five schemes of the ARC’s National Competitive Grant Program.

This included the ARC’s largest scheme, Discovery Projects, where $234.7 million was awarded for 630 new projects across all research disciplines. In addition to this, two hundred early-career researchers  received a boost to their research activities, receiving Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) worth a total of $71.7 million over three years. 100 mid-career researchers will also benefit from the award of $77.0 million under the Future Fellowships scheme; 10 Discovery Indigenous projects, led by Indigenous Australian researchers, received $4.6 million in total; and 48 new projects under the Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment, and Facilities scheme received funding of $28.6 million. 

Senator Birmingham said on the day that the funding “represents a significant investment in a wide variety of fundamental and applied research projects, growing Australia’s research capacity and infrastructure, and supporting the next generation of researchers.”

The success rates for several schemes this year showed an improvement on recent years—the DECRA scheme enjoyed an overall success rate of 16.7 per cent, improved from 16.4 per cent in the previous round; the Discovery Indigenous scheme success rate improved from 32.3 per cent to 35.5 per cent; while the Future Fellowships scheme—as well as seeing a doubling in the number of awards compared to last year—saw success rates rise from 15.9 to 30.9 per cent. The Discovery Projects scheme also saw a slight increase in success rate from 17.7 per cent to 17.8 per cent, with 630 successful projects out of a total of 3540 submitted for assessment.

The Major Grants Announcement also marks the completion of a significant amount of coordination and work at the ARC and in the research community. We thank the research administrators who coordinated their institution’s proposals; as well as many hundreds of assessors (including our ARC College of Experts  members) who contributed to this significant exercise.

We all now look forward to the research outcomes that will be made possible by the outstanding Australian researchers who were the recipients of these 989 grants. If you have an interesting research story to share, don’t forget to contact us at publications@arc.gov.au.

Major Grants Announcement feature articles

  • Laser guide star within reach: The creation of a new laser system for the first Australian laser guide star that will have important and far-ranging uses in astronomy, satellite tracking and mitigation of the threat of space debris will soon be possible, following the award of a $502,453 grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
  • Powering electric vehicles in sight: Developing innovative technologies for high-performance lithium-ion batteries for portable electronic devices such as electric vehicles will be the focus of new ARC Future Fellowship recipient, Dr Wei Kong Pang.
  • Finding the genes for salt-tolerant crops: Discovering the genes needed for developing crops with enhanced salt tolerance will be the focus of research of one promising early-career researcher to commence in 2017.
  • #thismymob: Digital land rights and reconnecting Indigenous communities: A national-scale Indigenous-led digital project will help to reconnect Indigenous communities, thanks to a $473,000 grant under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Indigenous scheme.
  • Navigating the urban environment with smartphones for people with a disability: Finding out how people with impairments use smartphones to navigate the urban environment to help improve access to services and address problems related to social participation will be the focus of research in an ARC Discovery Project to commence in 2017.