The ARC Linkage Program
James Cook University
21 June 2017
Professor Therese Jefferson

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2016–17 Federal Budget—$450.6 billion

Diagram to illustrate proportion of funding allocated in 2016–17 Federal Budget to all Australian departments and agencies. Dollars allocated to agencies are shown by the size of the circles of each department and agency.

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2016–17 Federal Budget—R&D $10.1 billion

2016–17 Federal Budget—R&D $10.1 billion

Diagram to illustrate proportion of funding allocated in 2016–17 Federal Budget to all Australian departments and agencies. Dollars allocated to agencies are shown by the size of the circles of each department and agency. This graph draws attention to the proportion of R7D allocated funding.

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Commonwealth Investment in R&D 2016–17 (%)

Commonwealth Investment in R&D 2016–17 (%)

Pie chart showing Commonwealth Investment in R&D 2016–17 ($m).

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National Competitive Grants Program

National Competitive Grants Program

Graphical representation of schemes in the ARC's National Competitive Grants Program. Each scheme is a rectangle with the area of the rectangle representing  ARC funding (new and ongoing projects) for 2016.

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Linkage Program

The ARC's Linkage funding schemes aim to encourage and extend cooperative approaches to research and improve the use of research outcomes by strengthening links within Australia’s innovation system and with innovation systems internationally.

Schemes:

  • Linkage Projects
  • Industrial Transformation Research Program
  • Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities
  • ARC Centres of Excellence
  • Special Research Initiatives
  • Linkage Learned Academies Special Projects.

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So you want to engage in research with industry?

  • Linkage Projects: $50K$300K per year/25 years: 
    Application timing—Continuous
  • Industrial Transformation Research Program
    • Training Centres: up to $1m per year/5 years
    • Research Hubs: up to $1m per year/5 years
    • Application timing—Annual
  • Centres of Excellence: up to $5m per year/7 years:
    Application timing—3-years

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Linkage Projects

The Linkage Projects scheme provides funding to Eligible Organisations to support research and development (R&D) projects which:

  • are collaborative between higher education researchers and other parts of the national innovation system
  • are undertaken to acquire new knowledge, and
  • involve risk or innovation.

Proposals for funding under the Linkage Projects scheme must include at least one Partner Organisation. The Partner Organisation must make a contribution in cash and/or in kind to the project. The combined Partner Organisation contributions for a Proposal (i.e. the total of the cash and in-kind contributions of the Partner Organisations) must at least match the total funding requested from the ARC.

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Linkage Projects

The objectives of the Linkage Projects scheme are to:

  1. support the initiation and/or development of long-term strategic research alliances between higher education organisations and other organisations, including industry and other research end-users, in order to apply advanced knowledge to problems and/or to provide opportunities to obtain national economic, commercial, social or cultural benefits
  2. provide opportunities for internationally competitive research projects to be conducted in collaboration with organisations outside the higher education sector, targeting those who have demonstrated a clear commitment to high-quality research
  3. encourage growth of a national pool of world-class researchers to meet the needs of the broader Australian innovation system
  4. build the scale and focus of research in the national Science and Research Priorities.

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Continuous Linkage Projects

  • Since 1 July 2016, applications for the Linkage Projects scheme can be submitted at any time
  • The continuous application cycle will allow a closer connection between proposal submission and outcome announcement (Within 6-months)
  • This helps industry and business to collaborate more readily on high quality proposals, and should assist in boosting the commercial returns of publicly-funded research
  • Following a rigorous assessment process high-quality proposals will be expedited to the Minister for decision.

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Linkage Projects—return and success rates

Linkage Projects—return and success rates

Linkage Projects (LP) scheme return and success rates 2009–2016. 

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Comparison of Linkage Projects success rates between female and male participants from 2010 to 2016

Comparison of Linkage Projects success rates between female and male participants from 2010 to 2016. 

Source: LP Selection Report 2016, Figure 2.

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Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF)

The objectives of the LIEF scheme are to:

  1. encourage Eligible Organisations to develop collaborative arrangements with other Eligible Organisations and/or Partner Organisations to develop and support research infrastructure
  2. support large-scale national or international cooperative initiatives allowing expensive research infrastructure to be shared and/or accessed
  3. support areas of existing and/or emerging research strength
  4. support and develop research infrastructure for the broader research community.

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LIEF—return and success rates

Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities scheme return and success rates 2009–2017.

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Industrial Transformation Research Program

The Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) encourages and supports university-based researchers and industry to work together to find solutions to a range of issues facing Australian industries.

The Program consists of two schemes: 

  • Industrial Transformation  Research Hubs
  • Industrial Transformation  Training Centres.

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Priorities for Industrial Transformation Research Program

  • The Industrial Transformation Priorities are priority research areas identified by the ARC which will be updated from round to round. The priorities for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding commencing in 2017 and Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding commencing in 2017 are:
    • Advanced Manufacturing
    • Food and Agribusiness
    • Oil, Gas and Energy Resources
    • Mining Equipment, Technology and Services
    • Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals.
  • These priorities are broadly consistent with the high-growth sectors established under the Industry Growth Centres initiative.

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Industrial Transformation Training Centres (ITTC)

To foster close partnerships between university-based researchers and industry to provide innovative training for early career researchers vital to Australia’s future industry.

Over the life of the program the ARC will facilitate:

  • establishing Training Centres nationwide
  • supporting ~10 “industry ready” Higher Degree by Research candidates and ~3 postdoctoral researchers in each Training Centre
  • provide up to $1 million per year for up to five (5) years for each Training Centre.

The objectives of the Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme are to:

  • foster opportunities for Higher Degree by Research candidates and postdoctoral fellows to pursue industrial training
  • drive growth, productivity and competitiveness within key growth sectors
  • enhance competitive research collaboration between universities and organisations outside the Australian higher education sector
  • strengthen the capabilities of industries and other research end-users in identified Industrial Transformation Priority areas.

 

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Industrial Transformation Research Hubs (ITRH)

Opportunities for universities and industrial partners to focus on significant collaborative R&D projects with outcomes beyond their independent endeavours.

The ARC will invest up to $1 million per year in each Research Hub with matching investment by industry partners up to a maximum of five years.

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ITRP: a unique ARC scheme

  • Industry/academic panel (SAC)
  • Aligned with Growth Centres (Dept Industry, Innovation & Science)
  • Plan for networking forum (ARC).

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ITRP Hubs and Centres Success Rates

 

 

Industrial Transformation Research Program Hubs and Centres Success Rates for 2012–2016 (all rounds).

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Firms collaborating on innovation with higher education and public research institutions (OECD 2013b)

Ordered bar chart showing SME and Large firms collaborating on innovation with higher education and public research institutions (OECD 2013b). Australia is at the bottom. 

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Partner Organisations say Linkage provides:

  • A long-term professional relationship—the contacts and ongoing relationships developed through the project often led to other projects or the ability to discuss issues and keep in contact: this was highly valuable to each party
  • Important research outcomes—these included new knowledge or solving particular problems through the research project(s) 
  • Building capacity—training and developing skills was an important factor identified by universities and their academic staff. Student placements are beneficial as potential new recruits or emerging researchers that know industry issues very well
  • Better connected and leveraged research capability—the projects brought together different expertise, knowledge and /or resources that would not have been available to the individual parties involved.

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Issues with Partner Organisations:

  • are unable to meet their cash-contributions. This is being reported to the ARC before, during and after the Project has been completed
  • are dissatisfied with the level of collaboration and inclusion in the Project. This is reported to the ARC both via the Research Office and from Partner Orgs
  • relationships which break down due to poor ongoing engagement and management with researcher(s)
  • have IP disagreements, don’t understand that the project commencement is deferred because of long contract negotiations, and also have trouble understanding how student placements work with ITRP
  • refuse to complete final reports because the university spent the ARC funds first but the research project is still continuing with PO funds.

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Establishing a relationship and designing the project

The known unknown—A short case study

Getting Started - some triaging is initially involved: 

  • There is a problem to be solved but industry wants 100% ownership of Intellectual Property and full control of benefitssee Contract Research or Consultancy 
  • There is a problem to be solved with immediate and longer term benefits, and IP to be shared between the University, industry and researcherssee Linkage Projects as a research project grant
  • There is a more industry-wide problem and the benefits may have system-wide industry solutions - blue-sky research plus serious capacity building involvedsee Industrial Transformation Research Program investments
  • There is a longer term problem, requiring a inter-disciplinary approach, the scale of national centre with international level of research excellence and translation to multiple end userssee ARC Centres of Excellence.

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Establishing a relationship and designing the project

Triage result—Proceed to next step

Triage resultNot now thanks

Proceed—but be aware of your university deal breakers and principles of engagement—don’t overpromise, don’t over-compromise

Consider a future collaborative relationship, or identify/solve other business problems

 

 

Consider the different perspectives…

 

Researcher focus

End user focus

Research outputs and outcomes

Outcomes as they can be applied and potentialcommercial benefits

  • Both parties’ needs must be met for a research project to be successful
  • Be clear about what is expected to be gained from the partnership
  • Don’t assume everyone understands research concepts or business concepts.

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Developing a collaborative project idea

  • Are there any conflicts of interest for any parties? 
  • Are there any other funded projects that relate to the proposed project idea?
  • The industry assumes that they know better than the researcher what the problem looks like and what a solution might look like. These questions should be addressed first and incorporated into any further project planning
  •  What does success looks like to each party? 
  • Consider critical risks and identify elements of risk mitigationresearch may or may not always be successful and cash and reputation are always involved
  • Have an early discussion about funds and other resources needed
  • Identify skill gaps and broaden the collaboration if needed
  • What ethics approvals are needed or other compliance.

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The Project concept emerges…

Clearly articulate the challenge/solution and describe potential project activity (what may be possible both in the project time frame and perhaps beyond).

Think about: 

  • who will be doing the work 
  • how each party will be involved
  • what contributions the parties will make in cash and in-kind and the likely expenditure involved
  • The intellectual property expectations (ownership and use)
  • what the specific outputs are and when they are expected to be delivered
  • about gender equity in your capacity building.

Consider a form of term sheet or heads of agreement, which will save you time and much angst later.

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Here comes the ARC grant application process 

  • Firstly the Research Office staff are your best friends! 
  • Be clear what each party will, will not, or cannot, compromise upon 
  • (IP grumbles can begin here if not dealt with early)
  • Prepare a ‘finalised’ budget allowing plenty of time for any internal approvals in the university and the end-user organisation
  • Share the application formindustry partners are sometimes forgotten here and don’t appreciate not seeing the draft and final versions
  • The early bird catches a Linkage Projects partner support letterindustry partners do not appreciate 2448 hours to sign off letters of support
  • Think about what continuous application processes mean for Linkage Projects in your preparations…

Also think about: 

  • Agreement on the distribution of funds and a contingency plan of what can be changed if the grant is successful, including if the amount of funding awarded is reducedthe impact affects all parties. 
  • As the ARC assessment process progresses stay in contact with parties and the Research Officeaddress the rejoinder process constructively.

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The ARC grant is awarded!!

Consider better practice preparation…

  • The University is the ApplicantDVCR signs the ARC Funding Agreement 
  • Some university research offices provide a checklist of key documents, policies and responsibilities for researchers to sign off
  • The road to a Collaborative Research Agreement…
  • A written agreement between all the partners must be signed before you spend any ARC $$. Your early work with a term sheet will now pay off
  • Notedon’t send written agreements to industry that are the size of an Encyclopaedia Britannica volume…
  • The Research Office will assist you with ethical approvals 
    • you cannot commence research work without clearances. 

 

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 Managing the project

Some governance is neededhave a project steering committee, Management Committee or Advisory Committeestructure depends on the scale and risk of the investment

Be clear:  

  • About how all parties are explicitly involved in the project from start to finish
  • That a translation plan is needed (know what to do when success starts to occur)
  • That everyone has some sense of ownership 
  • That the project remains focused on end-user needs. Look for quick wins too! 
  • That issues are to be dealt with quickly, rather than allowed to linger 
  • That when research students are involved in a project the expectations of the student, the requirements of their research degree and their aspirations for the future should be explicitly discussed, and try to give them the broadest opportunities for professional development including industry placements
  • About gender equity and family friendly workplaces when recruiting
  • About how to deal with project scope creep or losing focus when you leverage success.
  • That RO staff need to be informed about changes in the staffing or scope of the project.

 

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