Industrial Transformation Research Hubs Selection Report for funding commencing in 2023
The Industrial Transformation Research Hub scheme fosters close partnerships between university-based researchers and other researchers. Research Hubs support joint research activity, between the Australian higher education sector and industry, designed to focus on strategic outcomes that cannot be realised independently of each other.
The objectives of the Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme are to:
- support collaborative research projects between universities and organisations outside the Australian higher education sector that involve cutting-edge research on new technologies; and
- leverage national and international investment in targeted industry sectors, including from industry and other research end-users.
Applications for funding commencing in 2023 opened on 21 October 2022 and closed on 15 December 2022. Applications were submitted through the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines outcomes from the selection process for that round.
These outcomes are based on advice from the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) which:
- assessed applications and reviewed assessments made by independent assessors
- reviewed applicants’ comments on assessors’ reports
- ranked each application relative to the others on the basis of the application, the assessors’ reports and applicants’ responses to those assessments
- assessed and recommended budgets
- approved application feedback
and advice from the ARC’s National Competitive Grants Program Eligibility Committee which:
- considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff, the members of the SAC or independent assessors
- where required, sought advice from the ARC's Medical Research Advisory Group
- made recommendations to the CEO in respect of ineligible applications.
This report reflects the outcomes approved by the Minister.
Assessment criteria and corresponding weightings for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs applications are:
- Investigator(s)/Capability (20%)
- demonstrated Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE) of the proposed team including:
- evidence of experience in managing distributed and/or collaborative industrial and end-user focussed research;
- evidence of significant outcomes on industry related projects; and
- evidence of experience in and capacity to provide effective supervision, support and mentoring for HDR candidates and postdoctoral researchers over the life of the Research Hub.
- appropriateness of the team research track record to achieve the Research Hub’s goals; and
- time and capacity of the team to undertake and manage the proposed research in collaboration with the Partner Organisation(s).
- Project Quality and Innovation (30%)
Describe the extent to which the:
- aims, concepts, methods and outcomes will drive growth, productivity and competitiveness within relevant sectors;
- conceptual/theoretical framework is genuinely integrated, cross-disciplinary, innovative and original; and
- project draws together high quality innovative national and international partnership(s) into an integrated Research Hub.
- Feasibility and Commitment (20%)
- extent to which the Research Hub represents value for money;
- appropriateness of the design of the Research Hub and the expertise of the participants to ensure the project can be completed within the proposed budget and timeframe (including identified risks and mitigation strategies);
- proposed level of collaboration to support the research project, including national and international networks and linkages;
- high-quality intellectual support provided for the Research Hub by the research environment of the participating organisations;
- availability of and access to the necessary facilities required to support the proposed research (physical, technical, access to infrastructure, etc);
- commitment by each Partner Organisation(s) to collaboration in the Research Hub;
- adequacy of the budget, including cash and in-kind Contributions pledged by participating organisations; and
- extent to which the proposed Research Hub engages, and will continue to engage, meaningfully with the relevant industry experts including Industry Growth Centres.
If the project involves research pertaining to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities describe:
- the strategies for enabling collaboration with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities (for example, dialogue/collaboration with an Indigenous cultural mentor);
- any existing or developing, supportive and high-quality relationships with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities; and
- any personal affiliations with local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities that can facilitate the proposed research.
- Benefit (30%)
- the extent to which the research clearly addresses one or more of the Industrial Transformation Priorities;
- the economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural benefits for relevant Australian research end-users (including relevant industry and manufacturing sectors);
- the extent to which the proposed Research Hub supports clearly identified market opportunity(ies) and intended transformation for Australian industry or other end users;
- the extent to which the proposed Research Hub will build research capacity in the Partner Organisation(s);
- the extent to which there are adequate strategies to encourage dissemination, promotion, and the commercialisation of research outcomes;
- the potential contribution of the proposed research to addressing the needs of industries and communities as articulated in Australia’s Industrial Transformation Priorities; and
- where relevant, the extent to which the applicants have identified the freedom to operate in the Intellectual Property and patent landscape to enable future benefits to industry.
The ARC assessment and reporting process for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023 involved a panel of 13 SAC members and was managed in RMS. A total of 17 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023.
Funding levels and duration
Funding of between $500,000 and $1 million per annum for between 3 to 5 consecutive years may be awarded for each Industrial Transformation Research Hub.
Summary of outcomes
The ARC received 7 applications for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023. All 7 applications met eligibility requirements.
As shown in Table 1, 5 applications are approved for funding. The overall success rate is 71.4 per cent. A comparison of success rates and funding amounts is shown in Table 2.
Table 1. Details of approved Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023
|Research Hub Title||Administering Organisation||Research Hub Director||Approved funds over project life|
|ARC Research Hub in Zero-emission Power Generation for Carbon Neutrality||Queensland University of Technology||Prof Zhi-Gang Chen||$5,000,000|
|ARC Research Hub for Engineering Plants to Replace Fossil Carbon||The University of Queensland||Prof Robert Henry||$4,933,330|
|ARC Research Hub for Smart Process Design and Control||Monash University||Prof Aibing Yu||$5,000,000|
|ARC Research Hub for Value-Added Processing of Underutilised Carbon Waste||Monash University||Prof Lian Zhang||$4,955,854|
|ARC Research Hub for Future Digital Manufacturing||Swinburne University of Technology||Prof Dimitrios Georgakopoulos||$5,000,000|
Table 2. Comparison of application numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved applications from Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2022 and 2023*
|Funding year||Applications considered||Applications approved||Success rate
|Requested funds over project life - all applications||Requested funds over project life - approved applications||Funds allocated over project life* - approved applications||Allocation as a percentage of request (%)|
*May include indicative funding amounts
Outcomes by discipline
A summary of outcomes by discipline grouping is shown in Table 3.
Table 3. Number of applications, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023 applications by discipline
|Discipline*||Applications considered||Applications approved||Success rate
|Requested funds over project life for all applications considered ($)||Requested funds over project life for approved applications ($)||Funds over project life for approved applications ($)||Return Rate for approved applications (%)|
*BSB – Biological Sciences and Biotechnology; EIC –Engineering and Information Sciences.
Outcomes by Administering Organisation
Institutions across 3 Australian States submitted applications for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023. In addition to ARC funding, significant contributions are made by participating organisations as shown in Table 4.
Table 4. Numbers of applications, success rates and ARC funding for approved Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023
|Administering Organisation||Applications considered||Applications approved||Success rate (%)||ARC approved funding over project life (approved applications)||
|New South Wales||1||0||0.0||$0||$0|
|Queensland University of Technology||2||1||50.0||$5,000,000||$12,745,840|
|The University of Queensland||1||1||100.0||$4,933,330||$16,308,375|
|Swinburne University of Technology||1||1||100.0||$5,000,000||$12,517,488|
* Participating Organisations include the Administering Organisation, Other Eligible Organisations, Partner Organisations and Other Organisations.
# Participating Organisation contributions are shown by organisation type in Table 4.
Participating organisation contributions by organisation type
As shown in Table 5, contributions to Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023 from Partner Organisations total over $52 million, 66.9 per cent of the total organisation contributions to successful Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023.
Table 5. Participating organisation contributions by organisation type for approved Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023 applications
|Organisation type||Organisation contributions (cash & in-kind) over project life (approved applications)|
|Other Eligible Organisation||$11,749,101|
Partner Organisation contributions by sector
Partner Organisations were identified as either Australian, international, government, non-profit, industry or overseas higher education organisations. The Partner Organisation contributions in these categories for applications approved for funding in 2023 are shown in Table 6.
Table 6. Partner Organisation contributions by sector for approved Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023 applications
|Australian State, Territory and Local Government||$850,000||3.43||$1,900,000||6.88||$2,750,000||5.25|
|Australian Federal Government||$0||0.00||$428,130||1.55||$428,130||0.82|
|Australian Company Industry Body||$16,425,000||66.30||$17,138,730||62.05||$33,563,730||64.06|
|International Company Industry Body||$6,950,000||28.05||$7,420,000||26.87||$14,370,000||27.43|
|Australian Non Profit||$0||0.00||$100,000||0.36||$100,000||0.19|
|Higher Education International||$300,000||1.21||$382,500||1.38||$682,500||1.30|
Note: All totals and percentages are shown using rounded figures, and as such may not sum.
Leverage of ARC funding
Of the 7 applications considered, 5 were approved with a total approved funding, over the life of these projects, of $24,889,184. There are 49 unique Partner Organisations involved, committing a total of $52,394,360 million in cash and in-kind funding. This represents $2.11 from Partner Organisations for every dollar of funding from the ARC.
Industrial Transformation Priorities
As shown in Table 7, applications for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023 were submitted across 7 Industrial Transformation Priorities.
Table 7. Instances of identified Industrial Transformation Priorities in Industrial Transformation Research Hubs applications approved for funding commencing in 2023
|Industrial Transformation Priorities||Instances in applications considered*||Instances in applications approved*|
|Food, Beverage and Agribusiness||2||2|
|Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals||1||0|
|Mining Equipment, Resources Technology and Services, Critical Minerals Processing||1||1|
|Oil, Gas and Energy Resources||2||2|
|Recycling and Clean Energy||5||4|
* A single application may select multiple Industrial Transformation Priorities
Science and Research Priorities
As shown in Table 8, all applications for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023 selected a Science and Research Priority.
Table 8. Approved funding for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2023 by Science and Research Priority
|Priority area||Applications considered||Applications approved||Success rate (%)||Approved funds (over project life)|
|Total within Science and Research Priorities||7||5||71.4||$24,889,184|
|Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)||100.0||100.0||100.0|
Field of Research categories
Table 9. Application data by Field of Research category for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023
|Field of Research category||Applications considered||Applications approved||ARC approved funding over project life (approved applications)||Participating Organisation contributions (cash & in-kind) over project life (approved applications)|
|Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences||2||1||$4,933,330||$16,308,375|
|Information and Computing Sciences||2||1||$5,000,000||$12,517,488|
A total of 194 participants were named as either Research Hub Director, Chief Investigator or Partner Investigator on applications considered in this round. Of these, 150 are male and 44 are female. The success rates for males is 80.4 per cent and for females it is 19.6 per cent.
As shown in Figure 1, there are 14 instances where a total of 10 countries are participating in the approved Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023.
Figure 1. Instances of international collaboration on approved Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2023 applications