Overview

The ARC Centres of Excellence scheme aims to enhance and develop Australia’s research excellence through highly innovative and collaborative research, as well as build Australia’s human capacity in a range of research areas.

The ARC Centres of Excellence are prestigious foci of expertise through which high-quality researchers maintain and develop Australia’s international standing in research areas of national priority.  

Through the ARC Centres of Excellence, significant collaborations occur between universities, publicly funded research organisations, other research bodies, governments and businesses in Australia and overseas, all to support outstanding research.

Selection process

Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for ARC Centres of Excellence commencing in 2020 opened on 23 May 2018 and closed on 4 July 2018. Shortlisted EOIs were invited to submit full applications, which opened on 10 October 2018 and closed on 19 December 2018. EOIs and full applications were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines recommendations from the selection process for that round.

The recommendations are based on advice from a Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) which: 

  • assessed EOIs, reviewed assessments made by independent readers and reviewed applicants’ comments on assessor reports
  • shortlisted EOIs for submission of full applications
  • assessed full applications, reviewed assessments made by independent readers and reviewed applicants’ comments on assessor reports
  • interviewed applicants
  • ranked each application relative to the others on the basis of the application, the assessor reports, applicants’ responses to those assessments and interview performance
  • assessed and recommended budgets;

and advice from the ARC Eligibility Committee which:

  • considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff, the SAC or independent assessors. 

This report reflects the outcomes approved by the Minister. 

Assessment criteria

Assessment criteria and corresponding weights for EOI applications are:

  • Research program - Quality and Innovation (70%)
  • Investigators (30%)

Assessment criteria and corresponding weights for full applications are: 

  • Research program - Quality and Innovation (20%)
  • Investigators (20%)
  • Institutional Support (20%)
  • Governance, leadership and mentoring (20%)
  • Outcomes and linkages (20%)

The ARC assessment and reporting process for ARC Centres of Excellence used a panel of 18 SAC members during the EOI phase and 15 SAC members during the full application phase and was managed in RMS. A total of 258 independent assessor reports were submitted to the ARC for EOI applications and 67 for full applications. 

Summary of Outcomes

The ARC received 93 EOIs and invited 20 EOIs to submit full applications. Of the 20 ARC Centres of Excellence applications submitted, nine were recommended for funding. 

As shown in Table 1, the overall success rate was 45 per cent, which was the same percentage for the previous ARC Centres of Excellence 2017 round.  

Table 1. Number of EOIs, applications and success rates for ARC Centres of Excellence 2020 by discipline panel

Panel*

EOIs considered

EOIs shortlisted

EOI success rate (%)

Applications considered

Applications approved

Application success rate (%)

BSB

24

4

16.7

4

2

50.0

EIC

18

2

11.1

2

2

100.0

HCA

9

3

33.3

3

1

33.3

MPCE

22

5

22.7

5

2

40.0

SBE

20

6

30.0

6

2

33.3

Total

93

20

21.5

20

9

45.0

*BSB = Biological Sciences and Biotechnology; EIC = Engineering, Information and Computing Sciences; HCA = Humanities and Creative Arts; MPCE = Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences; SBE = Social, Behavioural and Economics Sciences 

Outcomes of approved ARC Centres of Excellence

Table 2 lists summary information on the approved ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020.

Table 2.  Details of approved ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020*

ARC Centres of Excellence Title

Administering Organisation

Centre Director

Total Allocated Funding

ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society

RMIT University

Professor Julian Thomas

$31,783,576

ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics

The University of Melbourne

Professor Elisabetta Barberio

$35,000,000

ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals

The University of Newcastle

Professor Kevin Galvin

$35,000,000

ARC Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems

The Australian National University

Professor Dragomir Neshev

$34,935,113

ARC Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science

The University of Queensland

Professor David Craik

$35,000,000

ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture

The University of Queensland

Professor Christine Beveridge

$35,000,000

ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child

Queensland University of Technology

Professor Susan Danby

$34,934,591

ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course

The University of Queensland

Professor Janeen Baxter

$32,137,007

ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology

Macquarie University

Professor Ian Paulsen

$35,000,000

*May include indicative funding amounts

Outcomes by Administering Organisation  

Administering Organisations in seven Australian States and Territories submitted applications for ARC Centres of Excellence. In addition to ARC funding, significant contributions are made by participating organisations as shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Numbers of EOIs and full applications, success rates and approved ARC funding for ARC Centres of Excellence applications for funding in 2020 by Administering Organisation*#

Administering Organisation

EOIs considered

EOIs shortlisted

EOI success rate
(%)

Applications considered

Applications approved

Application success rate
(%)

Total allocated funding amount

Participating organisation contributions (cash & in-kind for approved applications)

Australian Capital Territory

6

2

33.3

2

1

50.0

$34,935,113

$34,402,574

The Australian National University

 

6

 

2

 

33.3

 

2

 

1

 

50.0

 

$34,935,113

 

$35,402,574

New South Wales

36

4

11.1

4

2

50.0

$70,000,000

$88,981,288

Australian Catholic University

2

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Macquarie University

5

1

20.0

1

1

100.0

$35,000,000

$61,062,693

The University of New South Wales

7

1

14.3

1

0

0.0

-

-

The University of Newcastle

6

1

16.7

1

1

100.0

$35,000,000

$27,918,595

The University of Sydney

11

1

9.10

1

0

0.0

-

-

University of Technology, Sydney

2

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

University of Wollongong

2

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Western Sydney University

1

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Queensland

13

4

30.8

4

4

100.0

$137,071,598

$194,526,436

Griffith University

1

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

James Cook University

1

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Queensland University of Technology

2

1

50.0

1

1

100.0

$34,934,591

$32,239,197

The University of Queensland

9

3

33.3

3

3

100.0

$102,137,007

$162,287,239

South Australia

6

1

20.0

1

0

0.0

-

-

The University of Adelaide

5

1

20.0

1

0

0.0

-

-

Flinders University

1

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Tasmania

2

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

University of Tasmania

2

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Victoria

28

9

32.1

9

2

22.2

$66,783,576

$129,734,071

Deakin University

1

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

La Trobe University

2

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Monash University

7

1

14.3

1

0

0.0

-

-

RMIT University

1

1

100.0

1

1

100.0

$31,783,576

$39,344,634

Swinburne University of Technology

2

1

50.0

1

0

0.0

-

-

The University of Melbourne

15

6

40.0

6

1

16.7

$35,000,000

$90,389,437

Western Australia

2

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Curtin University

2

0

0.0

-

-

-

-

-

Total

93

20

21.5

20

9

45.0

$308,790,287

$448,644,369

* Participating Organisations include the Administering Organisation, Other Eligible Organisations and Partner Organisations.
# Participating Organisation contributions are shown by organisation type in Table 4.

Participating organisation contributions by organisation type

As shown in Table 4, contributions to ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020 from Partner Organisations total over $151 million, 40 per cent of the total organisation contributions to successful ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020.

Table 4. Participating organisation contributions by organisation type for approved ARC Centres of Excellence applications for funding in 2020 

Organisation type

Organisation contributions (cash & in-kind) over project life (recommended applications)

Administering Organisation

$128,754,602

Other Eligible Organisation

$168,728,562

Partner Organisation

$151,161,205

Total

$448,584,369

Partner Organisation contributions by sector

Partner Organisations were identified as either Australian, international, government, non-profit, industry or overseas higher education organisations. 

Leverage of ARC funding

Of the 20 applications considered, nine were approved with a total funding, over the life of these projects, of $308,790,287. There are 154 Partner Organisations involved, committing a total of $151,161,205 in cash and in-kind funding. This represents $0.49 from Partner Organisations for every dollar of funding from the ARC.

The Partner Organisation contributions in these categories for applications approved for funding in 2020 are shown below in Table 5.

Table 5. Partner Organisation contributions by sector for approved ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020

Type Cash In-kind Total
    $ % $ % $ %
Industry Body              
Australian    $4,544,000 39.47 $10,808,907 7.74 $15,352,907 10.16
International    $1,054,800 9.16 $38,691,665 27.71 $39,746,465 26.29
  Sub-total $5,598,800 48.63 $49,500,572 35.45 $55,099,372 36.45
Non-Profit              
Australian    $2,947,783 25.6 $4,842,026 3.47 $7,789,809 5.15
International   $0 0 $350,000 0.25 $350,000 0.23
  Sub-total $2,947,783 25.6 $5,192,026 3.72 $8,139,809 5.38
Government              
Australian state, territory and local government $1,003,113 8.71 $1,855,945 1.33 $2,859,078 1.89
International   $0 0 $350,000 0.25 $350,000 0.23
Australian Federal Government $1,120,000 9.73 $9,581,860 6.86 $10,701,860 7.08
  Sub-total $2,123,133 18.44 $11,787,805 8.44 $13,910,938 9.2
Other              
Other   $591,000 5.13 $13,594,600 9.73 $14,185,600 9.38
  Sub-total $591,000 5.13 $13,594,600 9.73 $14,185,600 9.38
Education              
International   $252,000 2.19 $59,573,486 42.66 $59,825,486 39.58
  Sub-total $252,000 2.19 $59,573,486 42.66 $59,825,486 39.58
  Total $11,512,716 100 $139,648,489 100 $151,161,205 100
Note: All totals and percentages are shown using rounded figures, and as such may not sum.

Science and Research Priorities

As shown in Table 6, all applications for ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020 selected a Science and Research Priority. 

Table 6. Approved funding for ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020 by Science and Research Priority

Science and Research Priority

Applications submitted*

Applications approved

Success Rate (%)

Allocated Funding

Advanced manufacturing

9

4

44.4

$139,935,113

Cybersecurity

1

0

0

$0

Food

1

1

100.0

$35,000,000

Health

2

1

50.0

$31,783,576

Resources

1

1

100.0

$35,000,000

Transport

1

0

0

$0

Unspecified

5

2

40.0

$67,071,598

Total

20

9

45.0

$308,790,287

Total within Science and Research Priorities

15

7

46.7

$241,718,689

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

75.0

77.8

 

78.3

Outcomes by Field of Research Categories

Table 7. Application data by Field of Research category for ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020

Field of Research category

Applications submitted

Applications approved

Allocated Funding

Participating Organisation contributions (cash & in-kind) over project life (approved applications)

Mathematical Sciences

1

0

$0

$0

Physical Sciences

3

1

$35,000,000

$90,389,437

Chemical Sciences

1

1

$35,000,000

$53,997,836

Biological Sciences

4

2

$70,000,000

$136,313,769

Engineering

1

1

$35,000,000

$27,918,595

Technology

1

1

$34,935,113

$35,402,574

Education

1

1

$34,934,591

$32,239,197

Economics

1

0

$0

$0

Studies in Human Society

3

1

$32,137,007

$33,038,327

Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

2

0

$0

$0

Language, Communication and Culture

1

1

$31,783,576

$39,344,634

Philosophy and Religious Studies

1

0

$0

$0

Total

20

9

$308,790,287

$448,644,369

Gender

A total of 599 participants were named on applications considered in this round. Of these, 389 were male and 207 were female and three were unspecified. The success rates for male and female participants in this round are 44.9 per cent and 47.8 per cent respectively. Of the nine funded Centre Directors, four are female and five are male.

International collaboration

International collaboration is an important component of ARC Centres of Excellence. Overall, the approved applications indicate collaboration with 26 countries. Data relating to international collaboration is shown in Table 8.

Table 8.  Instances of International Collaboration on approved ARC Centres of Excellence for funding in 2020 applications

Country

Number of submitted applications with international collaboration

Number of approved applications with international collaboration

Belgium

2

1

Brazil

3

2

Canada

6

2

Chile

1

0

China (excluded SARs and Taiwan)

11

7

Denmark

4

3

England

19

9

Fiji

1

1

Finland

2

2

France

4

2

Germany

14

6

Hong Kong (SAR of China)

6

1

India

1

1

Indonesia

1

0

Ireland

2

2

Israel

1

1

Italy

2

1

Japan

6

2

Korea, Republic of (South)

3

2

Luxembourg

1

1

Mexico

2

0

Netherlands

6

2

New Zealand

5

2

Norway

2

1

Poland

3

0

Scotland

5

1

Singapore

9

5

South Africa

1

0

Spain

1

1

Sweden

5

4

Switzerland

1

0

Taiwan

2

0

Thailand

1

0

United States of America

19

9

Wales

1

0

Total

153

71