Applying for and managing ARC Large Investments
2–3 August 2017
Dr Fiona Cameron and Ms Judy Satrapa

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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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ARC Active Major Investments

  • We currently have 99 Major Investments funded under Linkage Program
  • 34 ARC Centres of Excellence (3-cohorts)
  • 26 Industrial Transformation Research Hubs
  • 31 Industrial Transformation Training Centres
  • 8 Special Research Initiatives

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CE17 Discipline areas

ARC Centres of Excellence Title

Discipline

Administering Organisation

Centre Director

ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions

PCE

The Australian National University

Prof Lisa Kewley

ARC Centre of Excellence of Australian Biodiversity and Heritage

HCA

University of Wollongong

Prof Richard Roberts

ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes

PCE

The University of New South Wales

Prof Andrew Pitman

ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems

PCE

The University of Queensland

Prof Andrew White

ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery

PCE

Swinburne University of Technology

Prof Matthew Bailes

ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science

PCE

The University of Melbourne

Prof Paul Mulvaney

ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies

PCE

Monash University

Prof Michael Fuhrer

ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research

SBE

The University of New South Wales

Prof John Piggott

ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology

PCE

The University of New South Wales

Prof Michelle Simmons

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Overview of ARC Major Investments

  • Multi-institutional participation (national and international)
  • Multi-disciplinary research (blue sky and applied)
  • Leveraged funding arrangements and complex third party collaborative agreements
  • Significant public investments with expectations of excellent research impact and public outcomes
  • ARC expects best practice entity management

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The ARC Centres of Excellence—2017 objectives

  • Undertake highly innovative and potentially transformational research that aims to achieve international standing in the fields of research envisaged and leads to a significant advancement of capabilities and knowledge
  • link existing Australian research strengths and build critical mass with new capacity for interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to address the most challenging and significant research problems
  • develop relationships and build new networks with major national and international centres and research programs to help strengthen research, achieve global competitiveness and gain recognition for Australian research
  • build Australia’s human capacity in a range of research areas by attracting and retaining, from within Australia and abroad, researchers of high international standing as well as the most promising research students
  • provide high-quality postgraduate and postdoctoral training environments for the next generation of researchers
  • offer Australian researchers opportunities to work on large-scale problems over long periods of time
  • establish Centres that have an impact on the wider community through interaction with higher education institutes, governments, industry and the private and non-profit sector.

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Previous process of applying for a 2017 Centre of Excellence

Competitive three stage process for applications

  • Expressions of Interest
    • external expert assessment/rejoinder 
    • shortlisted by Selection Advisory Committee (SAC)
  • Full Proposal
    • external expert assessment/rejoinder 
    • SAC shortlists Proposals for interview phase
  • Interviews in Canberra with SAC (including ARC ED)
    • Proposed Centre Director, key researchers
    • DVCR

The SAC will make recommendations to ARC CEO for Ministerial approval

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The previous selection criteria

  • One set of selection criteria but—
    • there are different weightings for EOIs and Full Proposals
  • The selection criteria have been revised

Expression of Interest

Selection Criteria

EOI Weighting

A. Research program – quality and innovation

70%

B. Investigators

30%

Full Proposal

Selection Criteria

Weighting

A. Research program— quality and innovation

20%

B. Investigators

20%

C. Institutional support

20%

D. Governance, leadership and mentoring

20%

E. Outcomes and linkages

20%

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ARC Centre of Excellence applications

Common issues in ARC Centres of Excellence applications

  • Patchy alignment with scheme objectives and selection criteria
  • ARC seeks a national-scale research enterprise not a DP or a collection of DPs (distributed network) 
  • ARC seeks to fund a integrated research program that is multi-disciplinary, innovative, original and internationally leading. The ARC does not want a singular discipline approach to shorter term research problems 
  • Not having the key researchers/expertise or organisations in the Centre—the appropriateness of commitments to a Centre
  • Centre bids needs strategic thinking on building the best collaborations, access to infrastructure, best practice research training, clear translation of research outcomes to end users, and innovative outreach. Careful thinking about best practice governance of research entity is also needed.

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Centres stats for 2017 (CE17) 

Key 2017 stats

  • EOIs Received = 97 
  • EOIs Shortlisted for full proposal stage = 20
  • Centres funded = 9

Maximum budget from ARC was increased from $28 million to $35 million per Centre over 7 years.

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Industrial Transformation Research Program Hubs—overview 1

The Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme engages Australia's best researchers in issues facing the new industrial economies and training the future workforce. The scheme supports collaborative research activity, between the Australian higher education sector and industry, designed to focus on strategic outcomes that are not independently realisable.

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Industrial Transformation Research Program Hubs—overview 2

The Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme provides funding to Eligible Organisations to engage in cutting-edge research on new technologies and economic, commercial and social transformation which support the development of research outcomes that benefit industry partners in the Industrial Transformation Priorities

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ITRP Hubs—current objectives

The objectives of the Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme are to:

  • encourage collaborative R&D projects between universities and organisations outside the Australian higher education sector that will solve challenging industry issues relevant to the Industrial Transformation Priorities
  • drive growth, productivity and competitiveness within key growth sectors
  • leverage national and international investment in targeted industry sectors, including from industry and other research end-users.

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Industrial Transformation Research Program Training Centres—overview

The Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme fosters close partnerships between university-based researchers and other research end-users to provide innovative Higher Degree by Research (HDR) and postdoctoral training, for end-user focused research industries that are vital to Australia's future.

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ITRP Training Centres—current objectives 

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 by linking to 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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Fostering the next generation of researchers

ARC’s Industrial Transformation Training Centres place early career researchers in an industry setting.

Over a five-year period the ARC will award funding for up to 50 Training Centres with funding for at least ten Higher Degree by Research candidates and three postdoctoral fellows in each Training Centre.

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Industrial Transformation Research Program Research Priorities

Current Research Priorities 

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Food and Agribusiness
  • Mining Equipment, Technology and Services
  • Oil, Gas and Energy Resources
  • Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

Contact Industry Growth Centres

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ITRP Hubs and Training Centres

Common issues in ITRP applications

  • Alignment with scheme objectives
  • Greater level of collaboration with and commitment from industry
  • Value for money
  • Identification of market opportunity and benefit to Australia
  • “Project” integrated, multi-disciplinary, innovative, original
  • Build skills and capacity in end-user focussed research

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Insights on successful delivery of a Centre

  • Research Leadership—and the leadership team
  • Strategic planning and risk management—managing success and mitigating risks. Effective translation of research outcomes. 
  • Enabling integration—collaboration across geographically distributed participants (people and organisations)
  • Capacity building—research training and professional development

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Common Challenges

  • Managing People
  • Managing Organisations
  • Managing change—success, failure and emerging research opportunities
  • Implementing policies—innovative solutions that challenge institutions
  • Managing funds—all of the above

Strategy, culture, IP, geography, training, gender balance, inclusiveness, family friendly workplace

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Effective Governance

  • The Administering Organisation—a critical role in supporting the Centre
  • Benchmarking science—international scientific advisory committee
  • Benchmarking entity management—Advisory Committee versus a “Board” model
  • Researcher led or industry led??
  • The Centre is a national entity not a sub-department of a university school or institute…
  • Central administration versus a part time distributed model…
  • University administration—a tale of red tape
  • Networking—sharing success and risk mitigation strategies—COO regional groups, Centre Directors Forum, empowering Research Office contacts that specialize in Major Investments
  • An ARC Major Investments working group being established
  • Centres Directors needing mentoring, coaching and support—DVCR and Director of RO roles
  • Future advice—Membership of Advisory Committees should be rigorously refreshed and skill sets sought for emerging challenges

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The centre life cycle

  • A smooth establishment of a Centre - key tips
    • Centre Director’s Forum
    • Visits to the ARC
  • Engaging end users from beginning to end
  • Embedding a culture of self review and performance management—reporting and early warning of issues
  • Mid term reviews and responding to ARC feedback
  • Planning for Centre wind down 
  • Research impact and Centre legacy
  • Can we keep the name please??
  • Start early—applying for future funding

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Key upcoming dates

Please refer to the Important Dates page.