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Articulating National Interest in grant applications

The following information is provided to support researchers seeking to articulate the potential national interest of their research application and addressing the National Interest Test (NIT).

What is the National Interest Test Statement?

The NIT statement is a requirement in all ARC applications for funding under the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP). The NIT is a standalone statement assessed by the ARC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) prior to recommendation to the Minister.

The purpose of the NIT is to demonstrate the societal benefits (economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural) of the proposed research beyond the academic community. The audience of the NIT is the general public - a different audience than the Application Project Summary, whose audience is the applicant’s peers.

The NIT is a simple cohesive statement that demonstrates to a member of the general public how the proposed research can be of value to Australia.

How is the NIT assessed?

The NIT assessment is undertaken by the ARC CEO, separately to the peer assessment process. The NIT statements are a critical part of the funding recommendations to the Minister. This is in addition to the processes that consider due diligence, eligibility, and peer review assessment of applications.

The Minister makes the final funding decision.

What must the NIT address?

The considerations are:

  1. What is the project about? Describe the project in 1-2 sentences.
  2. What are the expected outcomes of the project? What gap is it addressing?
  3. How will the research benefit Australia (economically, socially, environmentally, commercially or culturally)? How might the research be used?
  4. What translation and adoption pathway(s) might be used to achieve the outcome? For example, are there conditions that would need to be in place for the outcome to occur? If so, briefly describe them.

Applicants should address these four considerations as a single cohesive statement. Applicants should take particular care in addressing each element concisely - the statement must be between 100 to 150 words and must be understood by a member of the general public.

Applicants should avoid technical explanations or jargon that would not be understood by a member of the public without background in the area. It should be written in plain English and be suitable for publication in popular publications and media. Evidence-based outcomes directly related to the proposed research should be clearly articulated. Sharing a draft NIT statement with colleagues in a different discipline or sector may assist an applicant to ensure the project’s benefits are clearly understood. 

Below are some good examples of NIT statements broken down to address each question.

Who can I talk to about the NIT?

In the first instance, researchers should talk to their Research Office staff for help preparing their NIT statement. Researchers can also contact communications teams or technology transfer officers to test how the proposed project benefits are best articulated for a wider audience. Research Offices may contact the ARC if further information about the process is required at: ARC-NCGP@arc.gov.au 

The ARC Executive Directors are available to deliver presentations including on how to write grant applications (including NIT statements) and other ARC grant information. The ARC Executive Directors also proactively reach out to Research Offices to share the latest advice on a regular basis.

Questions and Answers

Over what period of time should my response on adoption and translation be focussed?

There is no set period. For many projects the pathway(s) to adoption will be longer (in some cases significantly longer) than research in other sectors, for example the translation pathway for computer science is usually shorter than in comparison with biological sciences. Researchers are not expected to provide a timeline for the translation or adoption of their research. Rather, the statement should describe in general terms, how this project could be adopted, translated or commercialised.

How do I pass the ‘Test’?

The NIT statement is not an actual test. However, it is a requirement for funding within the National Competitive Grants Program.  As research projects cover a diverse breadth of disciplines (excluding medical research), statements should be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of the specific project.

The NIT recognises all pathways to adoption, translation or commercialisation equally and does not prioritise any sector and field of study. The assessment of each NIT statement is made based upon the merit of each statement and whether the statement articulates the national interest to a member of the public.

Are there examples I can consider?

Recent funding rounds have included NIT statements covering for example the assessment of new materials for low-cost solar cells, developing vaccines for farmed crocodiles, urban rewilding, and increasing bilingualism for Australian children.

More details are available here: National Interest Test Statements | Australian Research Council

Examples showing roughly how they have addressed the various question are listed below.  Note that the NIT statement is read in its entirety and the answer to a question can be across various sentences within the statement.  The following is provided as helpful guidance, not as a definitive outcome.

Examples:

This project will contribute to the national economy by addressing the current problem of intellectual property rights infringement in the digital sphere where all forms of visual art are created, bought, sold, and traded. Policymakers, scholars, and Australian artists are all concerned about fakes, imitations, and the lack of trust and transparency in these global transactions. By working with change-makers such as the Australian Copyright Council, Copyright Agency, National Association for the Visual Arts, and Australian Network for Art & Technology, this project will show how the integrity of digital platforms on which artworks are listed and securely traded can be preserved. The aim is to protect the livelihoods of those engaged in the creative arts while safeguarding their contributions, which are forecast to generate $140 billion for the Australian economy by 2025. This initiative will also place Australia at the forefront of cybersecurity technology applications and prevent rising fraud in the wider copyright industries.

NIT broken down against the 4 key considerations.

What is the project about? Describe the project in 1-2 sentences

Policymakers, scholars, and Australian artists are all concerned about fakes, imitations, and the lack of trust and transparency in these global transactions

What are the expected outcomes of the project? What gap is it addressing?

 

This project will contribute to the national economy by addressing the current problem of intellectual property rights infringement in the digital sphere where all forms of visual art are created, bought, sold, and traded

How will the research benefit Australia (economically, socially, environmentally, commercially or culturally)? How might the research be used?

 

By working with change-makers such as the Australian Copyright Council, Copyright Agency, National Association for the Visual Arts, and Australian Network for Art & Technology, this project will show how the integrity of digital platforms on which artworks are listed and securely traded can be preserved.

What translation and adoption pathway(s) might be used to achieve the outcome? For example, are there conditions that would need to be in place for the outcome to occur? If so, briefly describe them.

 

The aim is to protect the livelihoods of those engaged in the creative arts while safeguarding their contributions, which are forecast to generate $140 billion for the Australian economy by 2025. This initiative will also place Australia at the forefront of cybersecurity technology applications and prevent rising fraud in the wider copyright industries.

 

Art from international peacekeeping missions—‘art of peace’—has been vital in shaping how we understand Australia’s role in the world, as a peacekeeper and nation-builder. The 1990s was especially important for peacekeeping, with missions in Rwanda, former Yugoslavia and Timor Leste. Our team’s previous work has shown that art powerfully shapes our views of Australia’s involvement in war by focusing empathy on the experiences of our troops. This project expands on this, working with artists from countries where Australia sent peacekeepers and asking how they see our military and diplomatic efforts. We will share our expertise with those artists, and bring them and their art to Perth and Sydney for exhibitions, education programs and events. These activities can improve international relations by building relationships for exchanging viewpoints across cultures, and deepen Australians’ appreciation of how our military is viewed by others. The project benefits Australians more broadly by expanding our understanding of this important period in Australia’s military history and enriching our cultural heritage.

NIT broken down against the 4 key considerations.

What is the project about? Describe the project in 1-2 sentences

Art from international peacekeeping missions—‘art of peace’—has been vital in shaping how we understand Australia’s role in the world, as a peacekeeper and nation-builder. The 1990s was especially important for peacekeeping, with missions in Rwanda, former Yugoslavia and Timor Leste. Our team’s previous work has shown that art powerfully shapes our views of Australia’s involvement in war by focusing empathy on the experiences of our troops.

What are the expected outcomes of the project? What gap is it addressing?

 

This project expands on this, working with artists from countries where Australia sent peacekeepers and asking how they see our military and diplomatic efforts.

These activities can improve international relations by building relationships for exchanging viewpoints across cultures, and deepen Australians’ appreciation of how our military is viewed by others.

How will the research benefit Australia (economically, socially, environmentally, commercially or culturally)? How might the research be used?

The project benefits Australians more broadly by expanding our understanding of this important period in Australia’s military history and enriching our cultural heritage.

What translation and adoption pathway(s) might be used to achieve the outcome? For example, are there conditions that would need to be in place for the outcome to occur? If so, briefly describe them.

We will share our expertise with those artists, and bring them and their art to Perth and Sydney for exhibitions, education programs and events.

 

The world food economy is undergoing a revolution. Population growth and consumer preferences are driving demand for meat and dairy that our agricultural industry will struggle to meet. Plant-based alternatives to the fats that give meat and dairy their taste could help solve this problem, but they cannot be produced in sufficient amounts to be environmentally or economically sustainable. To solve this problem, the project will produce plant-based meat and dairy alternatives that will add flavour to plant-based proteins – and do so both sustainably and at industrial scale. This discovery and its commercial development through Australian food manufacturers will give consumers access to plant-based foods that taste like meat and dairy. With a predicted market of $162 billion by 2030, the project will also deliver benefits for the food industry by creating a competitive advantage over international companies, generating high-tech manufacturing capability and creating hundreds of highly skilled jobs.

NIT broken down against the 4 key considerations.

What is the project about? Describe the project in 1-2 sentences

The world food economy is undergoing a revolution. Population growth and consumer preferences are driving demand for meat and dairy that our agricultural industry will struggle to meet.

What are the expected outcomes of the project? What gap is it addressing?

 

Plant-based alternatives to the fats that give meat and dairy their taste could help solve this problem, but they cannot be produced in sufficient amounts to be environmentally or economically sustainable. To solve this problem, the project will produce plant-based meat and dairy alternatives that will add flavour to plant-based proteins – and do so both sustainably and at industrial scale.

How will the research benefit Australia (economically, socially, environmentally, commercially or culturally)? How might the research be used?

With a predicted market of $162 billion by 2030, the project will also deliver benefits for the food industry by creating a competitive advantage over international companies, generating high-tech manufacturing capability and creating hundreds of highly skilled jobs.

What translation and adoption pathway(s) might be used to achieve the outcome? For example, are there conditions that would need to be in place for the outcome to occur? If so, briefly describe them.

This discovery and its commercial development through Australian food manufacturers will give consumers access to plant-based foods that taste like meat and dairy.

 

Australia has an ambitious renewable energy target for 2023, which this project will address by developing and producing a new generation of fuel cells called Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOECs). These have the potential to produce large amounts of “green” hydrogen and “clean” syngas fuels without CO2 emissions. Currently the efficiency of these systems is low, but with an Australian industry partner we will develop more efficient SOECs that will allow better conversion and storage of intermittent renewable energies such as wind and solar power. By increasing availability of green fuel sources, and also making them more reliable across regions on demand, Australia can realistically increase future use of electric vehicles. In the shorter term, this research will also make our local manufacturing in this field more technologically and economically advanced, to secure Australia’s global leadership in this area.

NIT broken down against the 4 key considerations.

What is the project about? Describe the project in 1-2 sentences

Australia has an ambitious renewable energy target for 2023, which this project will address by developing and producing a new generation of fuel cells called Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOECs). These have the potential to produce large amounts of “green” hydrogen and “clean” syngas fuels without CO2 emissions.

What are the expected outcomes of the project? What gap is it addressing?

 

In the shorter term, this research will also make our local manufacturing in this field more technologically and economically advanced, to secure Australia’s global leadership in this area.

How will the research benefit Australia (economically, socially, environmentally, commercially or culturally)? How might the research be used?

By increasing availability of green fuel sources, and also making them more reliable across regions on demand, Australia can realistically increase future use of electric vehicles.

What translation and adoption pathway(s) might be used to achieve the outcome? For example, are there conditions that would need to be in place for the outcome to occur? If so, briefly describe them.

Currently the efficiency of these systems is low, but with an Australian industry partner we will develop more efficient SOECs that will allow better conversion and storage of intermittent renewable energies such as wind and solar power.

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