Overview

The Linkage Projects scheme supports projects which initiate or develop long term strategic research alliances to apply advanced knowledge to problems, acquire new knowledge and as a basis for securing commercial and other benefits of research.

The objectives of the Linkage Projects scheme are to:

  • support the development of long-term strategic research alliances between higher education organisations and industry and other research end-users, in order to apply advanced knowledge to problems;
  • provide opportunities for internationally competitive research projects to be conducted in collaboration with organisations outside the higher education sector; and
  • enhance the scale and focus of research in Australian Government priority areas.

Selection process

Applications for Linkage Projects 2020 Assessment Round 2 opened on 23 April 2020 and closed on 12 August 2020. Applications were submitted using a continuous application process, and this is the second of three assessment rounds for this scheme round. 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 Committees (SAC) which

  • assigned independent assessors to review the applications
  • 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 Unless otherwise specified, data presented in this report exclude withdrawn applications.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 Projects 2020 (Round 2) were assessed and merit ranked using the following assessment criteria:

Investigator(s)/Capability (25%)
Describe the quality of the candidates’ Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE) including evidence of:

  • potential to engage in collaborative research with end-users;
  • experience in research training, mentoring and supervision; and
  • time and capacity to undertake and manage the proposed research in collaboration with the Partner Organisation(s).

Project quality and innovation (25%)
Describe the extent to which the project is significant and innovative including:

  • any new methods or technologies to be developed that address a specific market opportunity;
  • how the anticipated outcomes will advance the knowledge base to address an important problem and/or provide an end-user and/or industry advantage;
  • how the project’s aims and concepts are novel and innovative; and
  • how the project will significantly enhance links with industry and/or other organisations outside the Australian publicly-funded research and higher education sectors.

Describe the research approach and training including:

  • the conceptual framework, design, methods and analyses, demonstrating these are adequately developed, well integrated and appropriate to the aims of the project; and
  • the intellectual content and scale of the work proposed is appropriate to a higher degree by research student where relevant.

Feasibility and commitment (20%)
Describe:

  • the extent to which the project represents value for money;
  • the supportive and high quality environment for this research in the Administering Organisation and the Partner Organisation(s);
  • the availability of the necessary facilities to conduct the research;
  • the commitment of each Partner Organisation to collaboration in the research project and capacity to implement the outcomes of the research; and
  • the adequacy of the budget, including cash and in-kind contributions pledged by the participating organisations.

If the project involves Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research describe:

  • the strategies for enabling collaboration with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities where appropriate (for example, dialogue/collaboration with an Indigenous cultural mentor); and
  • any existing or developing, supportive and high quality research communities.

Benefit (30%)
Describe:

  • the new or advanced knowledge resulting from outcomes of the research;
  • the economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural benefits for relevant Australian research end-users (including relevant industry sectors);
  • the potential contribution to building capacity in the Australian Government’s National Science and Research Priorities and other priorities identified by Government;
  • benefits of the research for Partner Organisation(s) and other relevant end-users;
  • the contribution of the research to developing strategic research alliances between the higher education organisation(s) and industry and/or other organisation(s);
  • strategies to encourage dissemination, commercialisation, and if appropriate, the promotion of research outcomes; 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 and/or end-users.

Assessment process

The ARC assessment process for Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) involved 17 SAC members as part of one multidisciplinary panel and was managed in RMS. A total of 1045 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC.

Funding levels and duration

Funding of between $50,000 and $300,000 per annum for up to five years may be awarded for each Linkage Projects application.

Summary of outcomes

The ARC received a total of 259 applications for Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2), none of which were withdrawn.

The overall success rate for Linkage Projects for funding applied for in 2020 (Round 2) is 25.9 per cent.

Of the unsuccessful applications, 11 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 Projects applications from 2019 and 2020 (Rounds 1 and 2)

Scheme Round 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 (%)
2019 432 175 40.5 $217,620,359 $92,200,635 $78,187,269 84.8
2020 (Round 1) 180 61 33.9 $87,268,182 $30,685,046 $26,881,001 87.6
2020 (Round 2) 259 67 25.9 $138,269,232 $36,054,450 $30,666,575 85.1

*May include indicative funds

Outcomes by discipline

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

Table 2.    Application numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) 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

49

16

32.7

$33,592,563

$10,352,756

$9,168,886

88.6

ET

76

21

27.6

$38,372,478

$11,532,634

$9,528,978

82.6

HSE

87

19

21.8

$40,022,118

$7,619,786

$6,481,228

85.1

PMI

47

11

23.4

$26,282,073

$6,549,274

$5,487,483

83.8

Total

259

67

25.9

$138,269,232

$36,054,450

$30,666,575

85.1

*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 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 Projects 2020 (Round 2) applications by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Advanced Manufacturing

34

8

23.5

$3,664,238

Cybersecurity

12

5

41.7

$2,083,302

Energy

15

6

40.0

$2,707,040

Environmental Change

38

12

31.6

$6,362,498

Food

22

7

31.8

$3,280,918

Health

42

8

19.0

$2,646,448

Resources

11

3

27.3

$1,794,365

Soil and Water

21

7

33.3

$3,344,110

Transport

10

2

20.0

$981,399

None selected

54

9

16.7

$3,802,257

Total Applications

259

67

25.9

$30,666,575

Total Applications within Science and Research Priorities

205

58

28.3

$26,864,318

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

79.2

86.6

 

87.6

Leverage of ARC Funding

Of the 259 applications considered, 67 were approved with a total approved funding, of $30.7 million over the life of these projects. There are 159 unique Partner Organisations involved with these projects and they have pledged a total (cash and in-kind) of $45.9 million. This represents $1.50 from Partner Organisations for every dollar funded by the ARC.

Outcomes by Administering Organisation

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

Table 4.    Numbers of applications, success rates, ARC approved funding and Partner Organisation contributions for approved Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) applications by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

ARC approved funding over project life (approved applications)

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

Australian Capital Territory

7

1

14.3

$780,000

*

The Australian National University

6

1

16.7

$780,000

*

University of Canberra

1

0

0

-

-

New South Wales

93

20

21.5

$9,352,918

$13,547,105

Macquarie University

6

2

33.3

$943,650

$2,027,228

Southern Cross University

5

2

40.0

$1,215,218

$1,693,962

The University of New South Wales

31

5

16.1

$1,896,004

$2,644,596

The University of Newcastle

5

3

60.0

$1,868,005

$2,147,009

The University of Sydney

18

3

16.7

$1,291,881

$2,039,146

University of Technology Sydney

14

3

21.4

$1,405,711

$1,626,164

University of Wollongong

7

2

28.6

$732,449

$1,369,000

Western Sydney University

7

0

0

-

-

Queensland

50

18

36.0

$8,328,529

$14,058,008

Griffith University

12

4

33.3

$1,389,344

$1,542,390

James Cook University

2

1

50.0

$615,012

*

Queensland University of Technology

8

2

25.0

$628,447

$787,053

The University of Queensland

25

11

44.0

$5,695,726

$10,849,547

The University of Southern Queensland

2

0

0

-

-

University of the Sunshine Coast

1

0

0

-

-

South Australia

26

12

46.2

$4,866,119

$6,400,625

Flinders University

8

3

37.5

$929,021

$1,025,685

The University of Adelaide

17

8

47.1

$3,622,098

$4,969,940

University of South Australia

1

1

100.0

$315,000

*

Tasmania

5

1

20.0

$447,376

*

University of Tasmania

5

1

20.0

$447,376

*

Victoria

58

11

19.0

$4,821,683

$7,577,129

Deakin University

6

1

16.7

$218,000

*

La Trobe University

8

3

37.5

$1,531,266

$1,731,220

Monash University

16

3

18.8

$1,256,857

$1,885,161

RMIT University

6

0

0

-

-

Swinburne University of Technology

6

1

16.7

$407,839

*

The University of Melbourne

16

3

18.8

$1,407,721

$3,082,249

Western Australia

20

4

20.0

$2,069,950

$2,371,321

Curtin University

5

0

0

-

-

Murdoch University

2

0

0

-

-

The University of Western Australia

13

4

30.8

$2,069,950

$2,371,321

Total

259

67

25.9

$30,666,575

$45,854,476

* For confidentiality reasons, total contributions by Partner Organisations are not shown in instances in which Administering Organisations are associated with one approved application only. The Table 4 total does, however, include the total contributions by Partner Organisations on approved Projects associated with those Administering Organisations.

Partner Organisations were identified as Australian, international, government, non-profit, industry or overseas higher education organisations. The Partner Organisation contributions in these categories for Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) applications approved for funding are shown below in Table 5.

Table 5.    Partner Organisation contributions by sector for approved Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) applications

Type

 

Cash

In-Kind

Total

   

$

%

$

%

$

%

Government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Federal

 

$154,881

1.2

$955,601

2.9

$1,110,482

2.4

Australian state, territory and local

 

$1,911,557

14.5

$6,002,034

18.4

$7,913,591

17.3

 

Sub-total

$2,066,438

15.7

$6,957,635

21.3

$9,024,073

19.7

Industry Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian

 

$6,848,579

52.1

$12,130,481

37.1

$18,979,060

41.4

International

 

$2,261,174

17.2

$3,084,846

9.4

$5,346,020

11.7

 

Sub-total

$9,109,753

69.3

$15,215,327

46.5

$24,325,080

53.1

Non-profit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian

 

$889,648

6.8

$5,523,063

16.9

$6,412,711

14.0

International

 

$0

0.0

$1,538,078

4.7

$1,538,078

3.4

 

Sub-total

$889,648

6.8

$7,061,141

21.6

$7,950,789

17.3

Higher Education

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 International

 

$195,000

1.5

$339,213

1.0

$534,213

1.2

 

Sub-total

$195,000

1.5

$339,213

1.0

$534,213

1.2

Other

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other

 

$882,736

6.7

$3,137,585

9.6

$4,020,321

8.8

 

Sub-total

$882,736

6.7

$3,137,585

9.6

$4,020,321

8.8

 

Total

$13,143,575

100

$32,710,901

100

$45,854,476

100

Note: All percentages are shown using rounded figures, and as such may not sum to 100%.

Partnerships

Linkage Projects applications represent partnerships between researchers, higher education organisations and other organisations, as well as collaborations between Partner Organisations within projects. There are a total of 162 instances of collaboration with Partner Organisations (including multiple collaborations with a number of organisations) in Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) giving an average of 2.42 Partner Organisations involved in each application. These partnerships form congruent and/or complementary linkages in Fields of Research (FoR). A summary of the FoR categories identified by applicants of approved applications and the total Partner Organisation contributions are shown below in Table 6.

Table 6.    Application data by Field of Research category for Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2)

Field of Research category Number of applications approved* Partner Organisation contributions (cash & in-kind) over project life (approved applications)
Physical Sciences 1 *
Chemical Sciences 3 $1,810,566
Earth Sciences 3 $2,665,152
Environmental Sciences 6 $5,164,299
Biological Sciences 3 $2,291,361
Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences 6 $5,859,958
Information and Computing Sciences 4 $2,579,552
Engineering 18 $12,786,462
Technology 3 $1,504,760
Medical and Health Sciences 3 $1,343,725
Built Environment and Design 1 *
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services 1 *
Studies in Human Society 8 $5,668,751
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences 3 $1,289,426
Language, Communication and Culture 1 *
History and Archaeology 3 $1,095,845
Total 67 $45,854,476

# Based on the primary FoR
*For confidentiality reasons, total contributions by Partner Organisations are not shown in instances in which FoR codes are associated with one approved application only. The Table 6 total does, however, include the total contributions by Partner Organisations on approved Projects associated with those FoR codes.

Career age and gender

Of the 919 Chief Investigators (CIs) in this round, 323 were female, 591 were male and five chose not to specify their gender. The success rate for female, male and unspecified CIs in Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) is 22.9 per cent, 26.6 and 40.0 per cent respectively.

Success rates of CIs by career age and gender in Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) 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 equivalent) or who do not hold a PhD (1.2 per cent) are not represented in the figure below.

Figure 1. Participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) 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.

International collaboration

In the 259 applications considered, applicants foreshadowed 233 instances of collaboration with researchers in 53 overseas locations. Of the applications approved for funding, 36 foreshadowed 61 instances of collaboration with researchers in 33 overseas locations (Figure 2).

Figure 2. International collaborations by location on approved Linkage Projects 2020 (Round 2) applications*

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