Overview

The Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme fosters close partnerships between university-based researchers and other researchers. Training Centres deliver innovative Higher Degree by Research (HDR) and postdoctoral training. The focus is on creating end-user research capability that is vital to Australia's future through developing solutions relevant to the Industrial Transformation Priorities.  

The objectives of the Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme are to:

  • support HDR candidates and postdoctoral researchers to undertake industrial training
  • support research collaboration between universities and organisations outside the Australian higher education sector; and
  • strengthen the capabilities of industry and research end-users in identified Industrial Transformation Priority areas.

Selection process

Applications for funding commencing in 2020 opened on 4 October 2019 and closed on 11 December 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 outcomes approved by the Minister.

Assessment Criteria

Assessment Criteria and corresponding weightings for Industrial Transformation Training Centres 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 Training Centre 
  • appropriateness of team research track record to achieve the Training Centre’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 
  • the project builds skills and capacity in end-user focussed research 
  • the conceptual/theoretical framework is genuinely integrated, cross-disciplinary, innovative and original; and 
  • how the Training Centre has a wide level of collaboration, including the development of national and international networks and linkages. 

Feasibility and Commitment (20%)

  • extent to which the proposed Training Centre represents value for money 
  • practicality of the proposed project objectives, budget and timeframe (including identified risks and mitigation strategies) 
  • proposed level of collaboration to support the research project 
  • high quality intellectual support provided for the Training Centre 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) 
  • capacity of each Partner Organisation(s) to support the Training Centre (including the plan for student placements) 
  • extent to which the proposed Training Centre will engage, and will continue to engage, meaningfully with the relevant industry experts including Industry Growth Centre(s) 
  • commitment by each Partner Organisation(s) to collaboration in the Training Centre and 
  • Partner Organisation(s) facilities and personnel contribution to the effective supervision, on-site training, support and mentoring for the HDR candidates and postdoctoral researchers over the life of the project. 

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 Training Centre supports clearly identified market opportunity(ies) and intended transformation for Australian industry or other end users 
  • the extent to which the proposed Training Centre will build the ability to exploit research outcomes in the Partner Organisations 
  • the extent to which there are adequate strategies to encourage disseminations and promotion of research outcomes among the priority industry sector 
  • 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 Training Centres 2020 involved a panel of 12 SAC members and was managed in RMS. A total of 126 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Industrial Transformation Training Centres 2020. 

Funding levels and duration 

Funding of between $650,000 and $1 million per annum for the first three years and between $150,000 and $1 million per annum for the fourth year may be awarded for each Industrial Transformation Training Centre. There is no minimum for the fifth year and a maximum of $1 million. 

Summary of Outcomes

The ARC received 31 applications for Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding commencing in 2020. All applications met eligibility requirements. 

As shown in Table 1, five applications were approved for funding. The overall success rate is 16.1 per cent. A comparison of success rates and funding amounts is shown in Table 2.

Table 1.  Approved applications for the Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020

Training Centre Title

Administering Organisation

Training Centre Director

Approved funds over project life

ARC Training Centre for Collaborative Robotics in Advanced Manufacturing

Queensland University of Technology

Prof Jonathan Roberts

$4,879,415

ARC Training Centre in Optimisation Technologies, Integrated Methodologies, and Applications (OPTIMA)

The University of Melbourne

Prof Kate Smith-Miles

$4,861,236

ARC Training Centre for Information Resilience

The University of Queensland

Prof Shazia Sadiq

$4,883,406

ARC Training Centre for The Global Hydrogen Economy

The University of New South Wales

Prof Rose Amal

$4,920,490

ARC Training Centre for Cryo-Electron Microscopy of Membrane Proteins for Drug Discovery

Monash University

Prof Patrick Sexton

$4,789,838

Table 2.  Comparison of application numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved applications from Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2019 and 2020*

Funding year Applications considered Applications approved for funding Success rate (%) Requested funds over project life - all applications Requested funds over project life - approved applications Funds allocated over project life Allocation as a percentage of request (%)
2019 25 6 24 $108,706,867 $24,072,165 $24,072,165 100
2020 31 5 16.1 $134,366,011 $24,334,385 $24,334,385 100

 *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 Training Centres 2020 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 (%)

BEM

7

1

14.3

32,040,102

4,789,838

4,789,838

100.0

ET

15

2

13.3

63,698,892

9,799,905

9,799,905

100.0

HSE

2

0

0.0

7,976,739

0

0

0.0

PMI

7

2

28.6

30,650,278

9,744,642

9,744,642

100.0

Total

31

5

16.1

134,366,011

24,334,385

24,334,385

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

Selection outcomes by Administering Organisation  

Institutions across six Australian States submitted applications for Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020. 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 approved funding for Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020 

Administering Organisation

Applications considered

Applications approved for funding

Success rate (%)

Funding over project life

(approved applications)

Participating organisation*#

contributions
(cash & in-kind) over project life

(approved applications)

New South Wales

11

1

9.1

$4,920,490

$10,578,498

Charles Sturt University

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

Macquarie University

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

The University of New South Wales

3

1

33.3

$4,920,490

$10,578,498

The University of Newcastle

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

The University of Sydney

2

0

0.0

$0

$0

University of Wollongong

3

0

0.0

$0

$0

Queensland

5

2

40.0

$9,762,821

$20,015,835

Queensland University of Technology

3

1

33.3

$4,879,415

$11,069,865

The University of Queensland

2

1

50.0

$4,883,406

$8,945,970

South Australia

4

0

0.0

$0

$0

University of South Australia

4

0

0.0

$0

$0

Tasmania

3

0

0.0

$0

$0

University of Tasmania

3

0

0.0

$0

$0

Victoria

5

2

40.0

$9,651,074

$17,794,192

Deakin University

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

Monash University

2

1

50.0

$4,789,838

$8,347,219

The University of Melbourne

2

1

50.0

$4,861,236

$9,446,973

Western Australia

3

0

0.0

$0

$0

Curtin University

2

0

0.0

$0

$0

The University of Western Australia

1

0

0.0

$0

$0

Total

31

5

16.1

$24,334,385

$48,388,525

* 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 Training Centres for funding in 2020 from Partner Organisations total over $18 million, 37.5 per cent of the total organisation contributions to successful Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020.

Table 5. Participating organisation contributions by organisation type for approved applications for the Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020 applications

Organisation type

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

Administering Organisation

$18,107,143

Other Eligible Organisation

$10,932,412

Partner Organisation

$18,139,700

Other Organisation

$1,209,270

Total

$48,388,525

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 2020 are shown in Table 6.

Table 6. Partner Organisation contributions by sector for approved applications for the Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020 applications 

Type

 

Cash

In-kind

Total

   

$

%

$

%

$

%

Government

 

Australian State, Territory and Local Government

 

$750,800

10.72

$1,510,500

13.56

$2,261,300

12.47

 

Sub-total

$750,800

10.72

$1,510,500

13.56

$2,261,300

12.47

Industry Body

 

Australian

 

$5,500,000

78.56

$6,918,400

62.11

$12,418,400

68.46

International

 

$525,000

7.50

$1,950,000

17.51

$2,475,000

13.64

 

Sub-total

$6,025,000

86.06

$8,868,400

79.62

$14,893,400

82.10

Non-profit

 

Australian

 

$225,000

3.21

$205,000

1.84

$430,000

     2.37

 

Sub-total

$225,000

3.21

$205,000

1.84

$430,000

2.37

Education

 

International

 

                $0

0.00

$315,000

2.83

$315,000

1.74

 

Sub-total

                $0

0.00

$315,000

2.83

$315,000

1.74

Other

 

Other

 

                $0

0.00

$240,000

2.15

$240,000

1.32

 

Sub-total

                $0

0.00

$240,000

2.15

$240,000

1.32

 

Total

$7,000,800

100.00

$11,138,900

100.00

$18,139,700

100.00

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

Leverage of ARC funding 

Of the 31 applications considered, five were approved with total funding, over the life of these projects, of $24.3 million. There are 55 Partner Organisations involved, committing a total of $18.1 million in cash and in-kind funding. This represents $0.75 from Partner Organisations for every dollar of funding from the ARC. 

Industrial Transformation Priorities

As shown in Table 7, applications for Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020 were submitted in all Industrial Transformation Priorities. 

Table 7. Instances of identified Industrial Transformation Priorities in Industrial Transformation Training Centres applications approved for funding commencing in 2020 

Industrial Transformation Priorities

Instances in applications considered*

Instances in applications approved*

Advanced Manufacturing

16

2

Cyber Security  

4

1

Food and Agribusiness

7

0

Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

8

2

Mining Equipment, Technology and Services

5

1

Oil, Gas and Energy Resources 

11

3

Total

51

9

* A single application may select multiple Industrial Transformation Priorities

Outcomes by Science and Research Priorities 

As shown in Table 8, except for one application, all applications for Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020 selected a Science and Research Priority. 

Table 8. Approved funding for Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020 by Science and Research Priority

Priority area

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds (over project life)

Advanced Manufacturing

14

2

14.3

$9,740,651

Cybersecurity

3

1

33.3

$4,883,406

Energy

4

1

25.0

$4,920,490

Environmental change

1

0

0.0

$0

Food

3

0

0.0

$0

Health

1

0

0.0

$0

Resources

2

0

0.0

$0

Soil and water

1

0

0.0

$0

Transport

1

0

0.0

$0

Unspecified

1

1

100.0

$4,789,838

Total

31

5

16.1

$24,334,385

Total within Science and Research Priorities

30

4

13.3

$19,544,547

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

96.8

80.0

 

80.3

Field of Research Categories

Table 9.  Application data by Field of Research category for Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020
 

Field of Research category

Applications considered

Applications approved

Funding over project life (approved applications)

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

Mathematical Sciences

1

1

$4,861,236

$9,446,973

Physical Sciences

1

0

$0

$0

Chemical Sciences

2

0

$0

$0

Environmental Sciences

1

0

$0

$0

Biological Sciences

2

1

$4,789,838

$8,347,219

Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

3

0

$0

$0

Information and Computing Sciences

3

1

$4,883,406

$8,945,970

Engineering

15

2

$9,799,905

$21,648,363

Medical and Health Sciences

1

0

$0

$0

Built Environment and Design

1

0

$0

$0

Economics

1

0

$0

$0

Total

31

5

$24,334,385

$48,388,525

Gender

A total of 856 participants were named as a Training Centre Director, Chief Investigator or Partner Investigator on applications considered in this round. Of these, 654 are male, 199 are female and three participants chose not to specify their gender. The success rates for male, female and unspecified participants are 17.4 per cent, 18.6 per cent and 33.3 per cent respectively. 

International collaboration 

As shown in Figure 1, 11 countries are participating in the successful Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020. 

Figure 1. Instances of international collaboration on approved Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2020 applications