Overview

The Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme provides funding for research infrastructure, equipment and facilities to Eligible Organisations. It enables researchers to participate in cooperative initiatives so that expensive research infrastructure, equipment and facilities can be shared between higher education organisations and also with industry. The scheme also fosters collaboration through its support of the cooperative use of international or national research facilities.

The objectives of the Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme are to:

  • support excellent basic and applied research and research training through the acquisition of research equipment and infrastructure and access to national and international research facilities; and
  • encourage Eligible Organisations to develop collaborative arrangements with other Eligible Organisations and/or Partner Organisations for the acquisition and use of research equipment and infrastructure or access to national and international facilities;

Selection Process 

Applications for funding commencing in 2021 opened on 29 January 2020, and closed on 29 April 2020. Applications were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines outcomes from the selection process for that round.

These outcomes are based on advice from the ARC 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;

and, advice from the ARC’s National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP) Eligibility Committee which:

  • considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff, the members of the ARC College of Experts 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. Unless otherwise specified, data presented in this report exclude withdrawn applications.

Assessment Criteria 

All applications that meet the eligibility criteria for Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 were assessed and merit ranked using the following assessment criteria:

Investigator(s)/Capability (20%)

Describe the:

  • demonstrated record in these activities (for CIs and PIs who will manage the purchase, design, manufacture, installation, maintenance and coordination of access to the proposed research infrastructure); and
  • relevance of the research infrastructure to the research capacity and planned activities of each CI and PI on the application and, where relevant, to the research groups represented on the application.

Project quality and innovation (25%)

Describe the:

  • aims and significance of the research that will be supported by LIEF funding;
  • relevance of the proposed research infrastructure to the needs of ARC and other competitively funded research projects/programs;
  • importance of equipment for the training of research students;
  • enhancement of support for areas of existing and/or emerging research strength; and
  • demonstrated national or international focus for large scale cooperative initiatives.

Feasibility and strategic alignment (25%)

Describe the:

  • extent to which the project represents value for money;
  • feasibility of the plan to use the research infrastructure;
  • relevance of the research to the strategic priorities of the organisations;
  • evidence that each of the organisations is genuinely committed to, and prepared to collaborate in, the project;
  • existing or planned strategic research alliances between the higher education organisation(s) and other organisation(s); and
  • effectiveness of cooperative arrangements for the management and sharing of the proposed research infrastructure, including arrangements for ongoing operational expenditure where applicable.

Benefit (10%)

Describe the:

  • benefit of the proposed research infrastructure to the broader research community; 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.

Sustainability/Need (20%)

Describe the:

  • demonstrated needs from the researchers and/or research projects that they will utilise the proposed research infrastructure, including level of demand and likely measurable impact on the research program, including beyond the project activity period;
  • availability of and access to similar research infrastructure at organisational, regional, national and/or international level;
  • planned rate of use of the proposed research infrastructure, including proposed arrangements for broader access to individuals not named on the application;
  • alignment of the planned use with other similar existing infrastructure within Australia and/or internationally; and
  • special needs for regional or otherwise remote institutions.

Assessment process 

The ARC assessment process for Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 involved 16 SAC members as a part of one multidisciplinary panel and was managed in the RMS. A total of 430 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC.

Funding levels and duration 

The minimum level of funding provided by the ARC under Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 is $150,000 per annum and the maximum level of funding cannot exceed 75 per cent of the total direct cost of the eligible budget item(s). Funding is provided for up to one year; or, up to five years for leasing infrastructure, equipment or facilities, the construction of research infrastructure, or subscription or coordinated access to international facilities and major national facilities

Summary of Outcomes 

The ARC received a total of 139 applications for Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities for funding commencing in 2021, one of which was withdrawn.

The overall success rate for Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities for funding commencing in 2021 is 34.1 per cent.

Of the unsuccessful applications, five were found to not meet eligibility requirements.

A comparison of success rates and funding amounts is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Comparison of application numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities applications from 2020 and 2021

Funding year

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

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

Requested funds over project life for approved applications ($)

Funds allocated over project life for approved applications*($)

Return rate for approved applications (%)

2020

164

47

28.7

$116,305,596

$33,144,068

$30,672,752

92.5

2021

138

47

34.1

$112,226,899

$41,171,620

$38,827,812

94.3

*May include indicative funds

Outcomes by discipline

A summary of outcomes by discipline is shown in Table 2. 

Table 2. Application numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 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

23

7

30.4

$18,674,616

$5,736,338

$5,530,397

96.4

EIC

46

13

28.3

$30,977,542

$7,693,072

$7,216,439

93.8

HCA

9

5

55.6

$5,305,603

$2,787,595

$2,425,114

87.0

MPCE

52

21

40.4

$49,663,116

$24,056,857

$22,774,104

94.7

SBE

8

1

12.5

$7,606,022

$897,758

$881,758

98.2

Total

138

47

34.1

$112,226,899

$41,171,620

$38,827,812

94.3

* 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 Economic Sciences

Outcomes by Science and Research Priorities 

A summary of outcomes by Science and Research Priorities is shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Approved funding and success rate for Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 applications by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Advanced manufacturing

64

22

34.4

$20,099,669

Cybersecurity

6

0

0

-

Energy

7

3

42.9

$1,039,418

Environmental change

10

4

40.0

$5,065,837

Food

5

0

0

-

Health

4

0

0

-

Resources

3

2

66.7

$1,620,654

Soil and water

7

2

28.6

$1,484,728

Transport

4

0

0

-

Unspecified

28

14

50.0

$9,517,506

Total

138

47

34.1

$38,827,812

Total within Science and Research Priorities

110

33

30.0

$29,310,306

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

79.7

70.2

 

75.5

Outcomes by Administering Organisation 

A summary of outcomes by Administering Organisation is shown in Table 4. 

Table 4. Number of applications and success rates for approved Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 applications by Administering Organisation

Administering  Organisation

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

Funds over project life for approved applications ($)

Australian Capital Territory

13

3

23.1

$6,269,020

The Australian National University

13

3

23.1

$6,269,020

New South Wales

41

13

31.7

$7,950,651

Macquarie University

4

0

0

-

Southern Cross University

1

0

0

-

The University of Newcastle

4

1

25.0

$183,437

The University of New South Wales

14

4

28.6

$2,668,250

The University of Sydney

13

6

46.2

$4,232,164

University of Technology, Sydney

1

0

0

-

University of Wollongong

3

2

66.7

$866,800

Western Sydney University

1

0

0

-

Northern Territory

1

0

0

-

Charles Darwin University

1

0

0

-

Queensland

15

4

26.7

$3,720,348

Queensland University of Technology

5

0

0

-

The University of Queensland

9

4

44.4

$3,720,348

University of Southern Queensland

1

0

0

-

South Australia

10

8

80.0

$6,747,822

Flinders University

3

2

66.7

$846,114

The University of Adelaide

6

5

83.3

$5,186,708

University of South Australia

1

1

100.0

$715,000

Tasmania

2

1

50.0

$275,000

University of Tasmania

2

1

50.0

$275,000

Victoria

44

14

31.8

$10,821,196

Deakin University

3

0

0

-

La Trobe University

2

0

0

-

Monash University

10

1

10.0

$664,580

RMIT University

5

1

20.0

$975,934

Swinburne University of Technology

6

1

16.7

$672,000

The University of Melbourne

18

11

61.1

$8,508,682

Western Australia

12

4

33.3

$3,043,775

Curtin University

2

0

0

-

Edith Cowan University

1

0

0

-

The University of Western Australia

9

4

44.4

$3,043,775

Total

138

47

34.1

$38,827,812

Career age and gender 

Of the 1402 Chief Investigators (CIs) in this round, 329 were female, 1066 were male and seven chose not to specify their gender. The success rate for female and male and unspecified CIs in Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 is 39.6 per cent, 36.4 per cent and 28.6 per cent respectively. 

Success rates of CIs by career age and gender in Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 are presented in Figure 1. CIs who did not provide gender information (0.5 per cent) and CIs who did not specify the date of completion of their PhD or who do not hold a PhD (1.1 per cent) are not represented in the figure below.

Figure 1.  Participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 by gender and career age*

*Career age is calculated as years since PhD (or equivalent). The earliest PhD award date was used where there was more than one PhD.

Collaboration with Other Eligible Organisations, Partner Organisations and Other Organisations

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities applications are expected to develop collaborative arrangements with Other Eligible Organisations and/or Partner Organisations and Other Organisations. 

A summary of success rates by number of Eligible Organisations is shown in Table 5.

Table 5. Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 application success rates by number of Eligible Organisations

Number of Eligible Organisations*

Number of applications considered

Number of applications approved

Success rate within band (%)

1

6

0

0

2

19

3

15.8

3

31

14

45.2

4

30

12

40.0

5

22

7

31.8

6

12

2

16.7

7

10

5

50.0

8

2

1

50.0

9

1

0

0

10

1

0

0

12

2

1

50.0

13

1

1

100.0

14

1

1

100.0

TOTAL

138

47

34.1

* An application with only one Eligible Organisation (the Administering Organisation) may or may not include Partner Organisations and/or Other Organisations.  There were no applications with 11 Eligible Organisations. 

A summary of application success rates by number of collaborating organisations is shown in Table 6. 

Table 6. Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 application success rates by number of collaborating organisations

Number of collaborating organisations*

Number of applications considered

Number of applications approved

Success rate within band (%)

1

5

0

0

2

12

3

25.0

3

15

4

26.7

4

25

9

36.0

5

27

15

55.6

6

19

1

5.3

7

14

5

35.7

8

7

3

42.9

9

3

2

66.7

10

4

1

25.0

11

3

1

33.3

12

2

1

50.0

15

1

1

100.0

20

1

1

100.0

Total

138

47

34.1

* Collaborating organisations include the Administering Organisation, Other Eligible Organisations, Partner Organisations and Other Organisations. There were no applications with 13, 14 or 16-19 collaborating organisations.

International collaboration 

In the 138 applications considered, applicants foreshadowed 333 instances of collaboration with researchers in 49 overseas locations. Of the applications approved for funding, 30 foreshadowed 129 instances of collaboration with researchers in 40 overseas locations (Figure 2).

Figure 2. International collaborations by location in approved Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 applications*

*The top 12 international collaboration locations are listed in Figure 1 and the remaining locations are grouped in the ‘Other’ category.

Leverage of ARC funding  

On Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2021 applications approved for funding, for every dollar funded by the ARC the proposed dollar contribution of the collaborating organisations listed on these applications is $9.43. The leverage of ARC funds for approved applications is shown in Table 7.

Table 7. Leverage of ARC funds for approved applications

Number of applications approved

Approved ARC funding

Number of unique collaborating organisations*

Incidence of involvement of collaborating organisations*

Collaborating organisation* Cash and In-kind contribution

Leverage (Collaborating organisation* contribution/ARC approved funding)

47

$38,827,812

78

280

$366,100,980

$9.43

Summary of Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities applications approved for funding 

A summary of the Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities applications approved for funding commencing in 2021, by Administering Organisation is outlined in Table 8. The application titles indicate the variety of equipment, infrastructure and facilities supported in this scheme round.

Table 8. Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities applications approved for funding commencing in 2021

Applications approved for funding

Administering Organisation

Lead CI

A National Facility for the 3D Imaging of the Near Surface

Flinders University

Dr Ian Moffat

AusStage LIEF 7: The international breakthrough

Em/Prof Julie Holledge

Collaborative robotics for structural assembly and construction automation

Monash University

Prof Yu Bai

Multifunctional Platform for Chemical Manufacturing and Energy Materials

RMIT University

Prof Adam Lee

The next generation fast radio burst detector for Australia

Swinburne University of Technology

A/Prof Ryan Shannon

Australian Membership of the International Ocean Discovery Program

The Australian National University

Prof Eelco Rohling

Australian Partnership in Advanced LIGO+: continuation

Prof David McClelland

Flexible Flame Aerosol Synthesis Technology

Prof Antonio Tricoli

Advancing 4D fluorescence microscopy within Australia

The University of Adelaide

Prof Matthew Gilliham

Integrated In situ Characterisation Facilities for Energy Studies

Prof Shizhang Qiao

Revitalizing facilities for nuclear magnetic resonance in South Australia

Prof Andrew Abell

Structure Determination Pipeline Capabilities for South Australia

Prof Christopher Sumby

The Cherenkov Telescope Array - From Production towards Operation

Prof Gavin Rowell

A 3-photon imaging system for deep live imaging

The University of Melbourne

Prof Scott Mueller

A cutting-edge and high-throughput nuclear magnetic resonance platform

Prof Spencer Williams

A fast fluorescence lifetime imaging microscope to track protein dynamics

Dr Elizabeth Hinde

Australian Cultural Data Engine for Research, Industry and Government

Prof Rachel Fensham

Enabling the Future of the Australian Collider Physics Program

Prof Geoffrey Taylor

Hydrogen-deuterium exchange system -  a missing link in protein analysis

Prof Michael Parker

Magnetometry Facility for Molecular and Nanoscale Materials

A/Prof Colette Boskovic

Near infrared imaging and spectroscopy facility

Dr James Hutchison

New Biomolecular Capabilities for the Melbourne Magnetic Resonance Facility

Prof Paul Gooley

Nyingarn: a platform for primary sources in Australian Indigenous languages

A/Prof Nicholas Thieberger

Ultra-precise dating in Earth, planetary and archaeological science

Prof David Phillips

A platform for probing nanoscale magnetic states under multiple actuations

The University of New South Wales

Prof Tom Wu

Cryo-Focused Ion Beam Facility for soft and hard materials

Prof Richard Tilley

Spacecraft Innovation Laboratory

Prof Andrew Dempster

The Australian Royal Commissions and Public Inquiries Library

A/Prof Philip Chung

Femtoliter Liquid Deposition Facility

The University of Newcastle

Prof Andrew Fleming

A customised triple-beam microscope for precise fabricating/characterising

The University of Queensland

Prof Jin Zou

Advanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Technologies for Southeast Queensland

Prof Robert Capon

An Advanced Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy Facility in Queensland

Dr Evan Moore

Australian Environmental Specimen Bank: advancing specimen bank capability

Prof Jochen Mueller

3D Two-Photon Nanoprinter for Advanced Multi-Functional Materials & Devices

The University of Sydney

Prof Hala Zreiqat

Australian Stress Engineering Facility

Prof Anna Paradowska

Electron microscopy facilities for in-situ materials characterisation

Prof Xiaozhou Liao

High Performance Single Crystal X-ray Diffraction Facility

Prof Cameron Kepert

Integrated Multimodal System for Multiplexed Imaging of Signal Transduction

Prof David James

Multifunctional deposition system for advanced superconducting circuits

Dr John Bartholomew

Advanced Maskless Photolitography for Western Australia

The University of Western Australia

A/Prof Mariusz Martyniuk

Founding an Australian Critical Zone Observatory Network

A/Prof Sally Thompson

High Resolution Mass Spectrometer for Chemical Characterisation in WA

Dr Gavin Flematti

National Facility for Infrared Technologies

Prof Lorenzo Faraone

An ICP-ToF-MS facility for environmental, mineral and biological science

University of South Australia

Prof Enzo Lombi

Quarantined ion chromatography mass spectrometry (IC-MS) facility

University of Tasmania

Prof Brett Paull

High-throughput camera system for biological cryo-electron microscopy

University of Wollongong

Prof Antoine van Oijen

Raman Spectroscopic System for In-Operando Electrochemical Studies

Prof Zaiping Guo