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 2021 opened on 10 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 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 2021 involved a panel of 12 SAC members and was managed in RMS. A total of 74 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Industrial Transformation Training Centres 2021.

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 25 applications for Industrial Transformation Training Centres 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 32.0 per cent. A comparison of success rates and funding amounts is shown in Table 2.

Table 1. Details of recommended Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2021

Training Centre Title

Administering Organisation

Training Centre Director

Recommended funds over project life

ARC Training Centre for Next-Gen Technologies in Biomedical Analysis

The University of Western Australia

Prof Killugudi L Swaminatha-Iyer

$3,975,864

ARC Training Centre for Healing Country

Curtin University

Prof Stephen J van Leeuwen 

$4,986,473

ARC Training Centre for Accelerated Future Crop Development

The Australian National University

Prof Barry J Pogson

$5,000,000

ARC Training Centre in Energy Technologies for Future Grids

University of Wollongong

Prof Kashem M Muttaqi

$5,000,000

ARC Training Centre for Behavioural Insights for Technology Adoption (BITA)

Queensland University of Technology

Prof Uwe Dulleck 

$4,282,859

ARC Training Centre in Bioplastics and Biocomposites

The University of Queensland

A/Prof Steven Pratt

$4,943,949

ARC Training Centre for Optimal Ageing

Monash University

A/Prof Yen Ying Lim

$4,583,816

ARC Training Centre for Facilitated Advancement of Australia’s Bioactives (FAAB) 

Macquarie University

Prof Alison Rodger

$4,997,903

Table 2. Comparison of application numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for recommended applications from Industrial Transformation Training Centres 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

31

5

16.1

$134,366,011

$24,334,385

$24,334,385

100

2021

25

8

32

$116,100,711

$37,770,864

$37,770,864

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 recommended Industrial Transformation Training Centres 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

5

2

40.0

21,875,312

9,986,473

9,986,473

100.0

ET

9

3

33.3

42,201,740

13,919,813

13,919,813

100.0

HSE

7

2

28.6

32,069,983

8,866,675

8,866,675

100.0

PMI

4

1

25.0

19,953,676

4,997,903

4,997,903

100.0

Total

25

8

32.0

116,100,711

37,770,864

37,770,864

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 five Australian States and one Territory submitted applications for Industrial Transformation Training Centres 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 Training Centres 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
Australian Capital Territory 1 1 100 $5,000,000 $13,472,487
The Australian National University 1 1 100100 $5,000,000 $13,472,487
New South Wales 8 2 25 $9,997,903 $31,708,909
Macquarie University 2 1 50 $4,997,903 $16,073,639
The University of New South Wales 3 0 0 $0 $0
The University of Newcastle 1 0 0 $0 $0
University of Wollongong 2 1 50 $5,000,000 $15,635,270
Queensland 7 2 28.6 $9,226,808 $18,079,030
Queensland University of Technology 3 1 33.3 $4,282,859 $10,279,039
The University of Queensland 4 1 25 $4,943,949 $7,799,991
Tasmania 1 0 0 $0 $0
University of Tasmania 1 0 0 $0 $0
Victoria 6 1 16.7 $4,583,816 $9,919,270
Deakin University 1 0 0 $0 $0
Monash University 2 1 50 $4,583,816 $9,919,270
RMIT University 1 0 0 $0 $0
The University of Melbourne 1 0 0 $0 $0
Victoria University 1 0 0 $0 $0
Western Australia 2 2 100 $8,962,337 $23,370,260
Curtin University 1 1 100 $4,986,473 $10,731,978
The University of Western Australia 1 1 100 $3,975,864 $12,638,282
Total 25 8 32 $37,770,864 $96,549,956

* 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 2021 from Partner Organisations total over $46 million, 48.4 per cent of the total organisation contributions to successful Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2021.

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

Organisation type

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

Administering Organisation

$32,640,404

Other Eligible Organisation

$15,551,137

Partner Organisation

$46,761,661

Other Organisation

$1,596,754

Total

$96,549,956

Partner Organisation contributions by sector

Partner Organisations were identified as either Australian State, Territory and local government, Australian Federal government, company industry body (Australian and International) non-profit (Australian and International), overseas higher education organisations and other contributions. 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 Training Centres for funding in 2021 applications

Type

 

Cash

In-kind

Total

   

$

%

$

%

$

%

Government

 

Australian State, Territory and Local Government

 

$2,875,000

20.99

$4,153,830

12.56

$7,028,830

15.03

Australian Federal Government

 

$1,217,276

8.89

$1,629,480

4.93

$2,846,756

6.09

 

Sub-total

$4,092,276

29.88

$5,783,310

17.49

$9,875,586

21.12

Industry Body

 

Australian Company Industry Body

 

$7,717,500

56.35

$20,581,554

62.24

$28,299,054

60.52

International Company Industry Body

 

$441,000

3.22

$1,921,301

5.81

$2,362,301

5.05

 

Sub-total

$8,158,500

59.57

$22,502,855

68.05

$30,661,355

65.57

Non-profit

 

Australian
Non Profit

 

$1,245,000

9.09

$2,718,475

8.22

$3,963,475

     8.48

International Non Profit

 

$0

0.00

$585,000

1.77

$585,000

1.25

 

Sub-total

$1,245,000

9.09

$3,303,475

9.99

$4,548,475

9.73

Education

 

Higher Education International

 

 $0

0.00

$563,745

1.70

$563,745

1.21

 

Sub-total

 $0

0.00

$563,745

1.70

$563,745

1.21

Other

 

Other

 

 $200,000

1.46

$912,500

2.76

$1,112,500

2.38

 

Sub-total

$200,000

1.46

$912,500

2.76

$1,112,500

2.38

 

Total

$13,695,776

100.00

$33,065,885

100.00

$46,761,661

100.00

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

Leverage of ARC funding

Of the 25 applications considered, 8 were recommended with a total recommended funding, over the life of these projects, of $37.8 million. There are unique 119 Partner Organisations involved, committing a total of $46.8 million in cash and in-kind funding. This represents $1.24 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 2021 were submitted in all Industrial Transformation Priorities.

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

Industrial Transformation Priorities

Instances in applications considered*

Instances in applications recommended*

Advanced Manufacturing

13

2

Cyber Security 

6

2

Food and Agribusiness

7

3

Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

9

4

Mining Equipment, Technology and Services

4

0

Oil, Gas and Energy Resources 

3

1

Total

42

12

* 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 Training Centres for funding in 2021 selected a Science and Research Priority.

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

Priority area

Applications considered

Applications recommended

Success rate (%)

Recommended funds (over project life)

Advanced Manufacturing

9

2

22.2

$9,941,852

Cybersecurity

2

0

 

 

Energy

2

1

50.0

$5,000,000

Environmental change

1

1

100.0

$4,986,473

Food

4

1

25.0

$5,000,000

Health

3

3

100.0

$12,842,539

Resources

3

0

 

 

Transport

1

0

 

 

Total

25

8

32.0

$37,770,864

Total within Science and Research Priorities

25

8

32.0

$37,770,864

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 Training Centres 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)

Chemical Sciences

4

2

$8,973,767

$28,711,921

Environmental Sciences

1

1

$4,986,473

$10,731,978

Biological Sciences

1

1

$5,000,000

$13,472,487

Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

3

0

$0

$0

Information and Computing Sciences

1

0

$0

$0

Engineering

8

2

$9,943,949

$23,435,261

Built Environment and Design

4

0

$0

$0

Economics

2

1

$4,282,859

$10,279,039

Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

1

1

$4,583,816

$9,919,270

Total

25

8

$37,770,864

$96,549,956

Gender

A total of 836 participants were named as a Training Centre Director, Chief Investigator or Partner Investigator on applications considered in this round. Of these, 622 are male, 211 are female and 3 participants chose not to specify their gender. The success rates for male, female and unspecified participants are 30.5 per cent, 45 per cent and 66.7 per cent respectively.

International collaboration

As shown in Figure 1, there are 19 instances where a total of 10 countries are participating in the successful Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2021.

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