Overview

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.

Selection process

Applications for funding commencing in 2021 opened on 2 September 2020 and closed on 18 November 2020. Applications were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines recommendations from the ARC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to the Minister.

These recommendations 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
  • recommended 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 funding recommendations to the Minister.

Assessment Criteria

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 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%)

  • 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 proposed 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 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.

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 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.

Assessment process

The ARC assessment and reporting process for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs 2021 involved a panel of 12 SAC members and was managed in RMS. A total of 51 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs 2021.

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 16 applications for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding commencing in 2021. All applications met eligibility requirements.

As shown in Table 1, eight applications are recommended for funding. The overall success rate is 50.0 per cent. A comparison of success rates and funding amounts is shown in Table 2.

Table 1. Details of recommended Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021

Research Hub Title

Administering Organisation

Research Hub Director

Recommended funds over project life

ARC Research Hub for Nutrients in a Circular Economy (NiCE)

University of Technology Sydney

Prof Ho Kyong Shon

$2,062,428

ARC Research Hub for Supercharging Tropical Aquaculture Through Genetic Solutions

James Cook University

Prof Dean Jerry

$4,996,503

ARC Research Hub for Functional and Sustainable Fibres

Deakin University

Prof Joselito Razal

$5,000,000

ARC Research Hub for Advanced Manufacturing with 2D Materials (AM2D)

Monash University

Prof Mainak Majumder

$4,379,165

ARC Research Hub in Intelligent Robotic Systems for Real-Time Asset Management

The University of Sydney

Prof Ian Manchester

$5,000,000

ARC Research Hub for Connected Sensors for Health

The University of New South Wales

Prof Chun Wang

$5,000,000

ARC Industry Transformation Research Hub for Resilient and Intelligent Infrastructure Systems (RIIS) in Urban, Resources and Energy Sectors

The University of New South Wales

Prof Nasser Khalili

$4,980,000

The ARC Research Hub for Digital Bioprocess Development

The University of Melbourne

Prof Sally Gras

$5,000,000

Table 2. Comparison of application numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for recommended applications from Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2020 and 2021*

Funding year

Applications considered

Applications recommended

Success rate

(%)

Requested funds over project life

- all applications

Requested funds over project life -

recommended applications

Funds allocated over project life* - recommended applications

Allocation as a percentage of request (%)

2020

16

5

31.3

$72,284,569

$25,000,000

$24,950,000

99.8

2021

16

8

50.0

$71,951,781

$36,418,096

$36,418,096

100.0

*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 recommended Industrial Transformation Research Hubs 2021 applications by discipline

Discipline*

Applications considered

Applications recommended

Success rate (%)

Requested funds over project life for all applications considered ($)

Requested funds over project life for recommended applications ($)

Funds over project life for recommended applications ($)

Return Rate for recommended applications (%)

BEM

2

1

50.0

8,529,331

4,996,503

4,996,503

100.0

ET

9

6

66.7

41,378,514

26,421,593

26,421,593

100.0

PMI

5

1

20.0

22,043,936

5,000,000

5,000,000

100.0

Total

16

8

50.0

71,951,781

36,418,096

36,418,096

100.0

*BEM – Biological Sciences, Biotechnology, Environmental, Medical and Health Sciences; ET –Engineering and Technology; HSE – Humanities and Creative Arts, Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences; PMI – Physical, Mathematical and Information Sciences

Outcomes by Administering Organisation

Institutions across six Australian States submitted applications for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021. 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 recommended funding for recommended Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021

Administering Organisation

Applications considered

Applications recommended

Success rate (%)

ARC recommended funding over project life

(recommended applications)

Participating organisation*#

contributions
(cash & in-kind) over project life

(recommended applications

New South Wales

8

4

50.0

$17,042,428

$60,328,046

The University of New South Wales

3

2

66.7

$9,980,000

$37,503,566

The University of Newcastle

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

The University of Sydney

2

1

50.0

$5,000,000

$15,245,169

University of Technology Sydney

1

1

100.0

$2,062,428

$7,579,311

University of Wollongong

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

Queensland

1

1

100.0

$4,996,503

$17,428,537

James Cook University

1

1

100.0

$4,996,503

$17,428,537

South Australia

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

University of South Adelaide

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

Tasmania

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

University of Tasmania

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

Victoria

5

3

60.0

$14,379,165

$35,672,981

Deakin University

1

1

100.0

$5,000,000

$12,482,293

Monash University

2

1

50.0

$4,379,165

$9,872,132

Swinburne University of Technology

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

The University of Melbourne

1

1

100.0

$5,000,000

$13,318,556

Total

16

8

50.0

$36,418,096

$113,429,564

* 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 for funding in 2021 from Partner Organisations total over $72 million, 64 per cent of the total organisation contributions to successful Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021.

Table 5.  Participating organisation contributions by organisation type for recommended Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021 applications

Organisation type

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

Administering Organisation

$29,131,184

Other Eligible Organisation

$10,822,810

Partner Organisation

$72,041,051

Other Organisation

$1,434,519

Total

$113,429,564

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 recommended for funding in 2021 are shown in Table 6.

Table 6. Partner Organisation contributions by sector for recommended Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021 applications

Type

 

Cash

In-kind

Total

   

$

%

$

%

$

%

Government

 

Australian State, Territory and Local Government

 

$290,000

0.87

$2,656,500

6.84

$2,946,500

4.09

Australian Federal Government

 

$150,000

0.45

$300,000

0.77

$450,000

0.62

 

Sub-total

$440,000

1.32

$2,956,500

7.61

$3,396,500

4.71

Industry Body

 

Australian

 

$26,817,000

80.78

$28,739,050

73.99

$55,556,050

77.12

International

 

$3,990,001

12.02

$1,805,000

4.65

$5,795,001

8.04

 

Sub-total

$30,807,001

92.80

$30,544,050

78.64

$61,351,051

85.16

Non-profit

 

Australian

 

$800,000

2.41

$1,311,000

3.38

$2,111,000

     2.93

 

Sub-total

$800,000

2.41

$1,311,000

3.38

$2,111,000

2.93

Education

 

International

 

              $0

0.00

$327,500

0.84

$327,500

0.45

 

Sub-total

              $0

0.00

$327,500

0.84

$327,500

0.45

Other

 

Other

 

$1,150,000

3.46

$3,705,000

9.54

$4,855,000

6.74

 

Sub-total

$1,150,000

3.46

$3,705,000

9.54

$4,855,000

6.74

 

Total

$33,197,001

100.00

$38,844,050

100.00

$72,041,051

100.00

Note: All totals and percentages are shown using rounded figures, and as such may not sum.

Leverage of ARC funding

Of the 16 applications considered, eight were recommended with a total recommended funding, over the life of these projects, of $36.4 million. There are 100 unique Partner Organisations involved, committing a total of $72 million in cash and in-kind funding. This represents $1.98 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 for funding in 2021 were submitted in all Industrial Transformation Priorities.

Table 7. Instances of identified Industrial Transformation Priorities in Industrial Transformation Research Hubs applications recommended for funding commencing in 2021

Industrial Transformation Priorities

Instances in applications considered*

Instances in applications recommended*

Advanced Manufacturing

11

7

Cyber Security 

6

3

Food and Agribusiness

6

2

Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

3

2

Mining Equipment, Technology and Services

5

3

Oil, Gas and Energy Resources 

4

2

Total

35

19

* A single application may select multiple Industrial Transformation Priorities

Outcomes by Science and Research Priorities

As shown in Table 8, all applications for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021 selected a Science and Research Priority.

Table 8. Recommended funding for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021 by Science and Research Priority

Priority area

Applications considered

Applications recommended

Success rate (%)

Recommended funds (over project life)

Advanced Manufacturing

6

5

83.3

$21,441,593

Cybersecurity

3

0

 

 

Energy

1

0

 

 

Food

3

1

33.3

$4,996,503

Health

1

1

100.0

$5,000,000

Resources

2

1

50.0

$4,980,000

Total

16

8

50.0

$36,418,096

Total within Science and Research Priorities

16

8

50.0

$36,418,096

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 for funding in 2021

Field of Research category

Applications considered

Applications recommended

ARC recommended funding over project life (recommended applications)

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

Geology

1

0

 

 

Plant Biology

1

0

 

 

Fisheries Sciences

1

1

$4,996,503

$17,428,537

Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing

2

2

$10,000,000

$28,563,725

Computer Software

1

0

 

 

Data format

1

0

 

 

Distributed Computing

1

0

 

 

Chemical Engineering

2

0

 

 

Environmental Engineering

1

1

$2,062,428

$7,579,311

Food Sciences

1

0

 

 

Materials Engineering

1

1

$5,000,000

$12,482,293

Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy

1

1

$4,980,000

$18,258,180

Nanotechnology

2

2

$9,379,165

$29,117,518

Total

16

8

$36,418,096

$113,429,564

Gender

A total of 522 participants were named as a Research Hub Director, Chief Investigator or Partner Investigator on applications considered in this round. Of these, 406 are male, 114 are female and 2 participants chose not to specify their gender. The success rates for male, female and unspecified participants are 52.5 per cent, 43 per cent and zero per cent respectively.

International collaboration

As shown in Figure 1, there are 20 instances where a total of 13 countries are participating in the successful Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021.

Figure 1.  Instances of international collaboration on recommended Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2021 applications