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 2021 Assessment Round 1 opened on 18 December 2020 and closed on 13 April 2021. Applications were submitted using a continuous application process, this is the first of the three assessment rounds for this scheme. 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 Unless otherwise specified, data presented in this report exclude withdrawn applications.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 2021 (Round 1) 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 2021 (Round 1) involved 17 SAC members as part of one multidisciplinary panel and was managed in RMS. A total of 538 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 156 applications for Linkage Projects 2021 (Round 1), none of which were withdrawn.

The overall success rate for Linkage Projects for funding applied for in 2021 (Round 1) is 33.3 per cent.

Of the unsuccessful applications, one was 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 2020 (Rounds 1, 2 and 3) and 2021 (Round 1)

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 (%)

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

2020 (Round 3)

276

67

24.3

$140,742,080

$36,563,401

$31,724,738

86.8

2021 (Round 1)

156

52

33.3

$79,107,431

$27,924,670

$24,453,512

87.6

*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 2021 (Round 1) 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

26

7

26.9

$13,950,363

$3,779,879

$3,586,000

94.9

ET

49

18

36.7

$25,934,213

$9,819,880

$8,709,002

88.7

HSE

45

15

33.3

$21,212,040

$8,000,901

$6,471,314

80.9

PMI

36

12

33.3

$18,010,815

$6,324,010

$5,687,196

89.9

Total

156

52

33.3

$79,107,431

$27,924,670

$24,453,512

87.6

*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 2021 (Round 1) applications by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Advanced Manufacturing

28

10

35.7

$5,554,550

Cybersecurity

8

0

0

-

Energy

11

6

54.5

$2,381,816

Environmental Change

20

6

30.0

$2,961,578

Food

8

2

25.0

$1,346,688

Health

24

10

41.7

$4,688,777

Resources

9

3

33.3

$1,059,884

Soil and Water

11

2

18.2

$1,375,926

Transport

9

4

44.4

$1,441,964

None selected

28

9

32.1

$3,642,329

Total Applications

156

52

33.3

$24,453,512

Total Applications within Science and Research Priorities

128

43

33.6

$20,811,183

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

82.1

82.7

 

85.1

Leverage of ARC funding 

Of the 156 applications considered, 52 were approved with a total approved funding, of $24.5 million over the life of these projects. There are 104 unique Partner Organisations involved with these projects and they have pledged a total (cash and in-kind) of $36.5 million. This represents $1.49 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 2021 (Round 1) 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

5

1

20.0

$238,000

*

The Australian National University

5

1

20.0

$238,000

*

New South Wales

62

19

30.6

$8,983,550

$15,720,908

Australian Catholic University

4

1

25.0

$777,000

*

Macquarie University

4

1

25.0

$459,593

*

Southern Cross University

1

1

100.0

$429,569

*

The University of New South Wales

17

5

29.4

$1,960,137

$4,128,321

The University of Newcastle

5

2

40.0

$909,009

$1,160,000

The University of Sydney

12

6

50.0

$2,974,768

$4,470,695

University of Technology Sydney

10

3

30.0

$1,473,474

$2,417,736

University of Wollongong

5

0

0

-

-

Western Sydney University

4

0

0

-

-

Northern Territory

1

1

100.0

$532,815

*

Charles Darwin University

1

1

100.0

$532,815

*

Queensland

27

9

33.3

$3,171,055

$3,733,635

Griffith University

7

0

0

-

-

James Cook University

1

0

0

-

Queensland University of Technology

6

3

50.0

$837,077

$1,009,412

The University of Queensland

10

5

50.0

$1,635,537

$1,824,223

The University of Southern Queensland

1

1

100.0

$698,441

*

University of Sunshine Coast

2

0

0

-

South Australia

10

6

60.0

$2,880,791

$3,962,188

Flinders University

5

2

40.0

$1,667,959

$2,107,724

The University of Adelaide

4

3

75.0

$927,194

$1,495,064

University of South Australia

1

1

100.0

$285,638

*

Tasmania

5

1

20.0

$478,589

*

University of Tasmania

5

1

20.0

$478,589

*

Victoria

30

6

20.0

$3,056,884

$4,002,432

La Trobe University

5

2

40.0

$1,084,189

$1,432,779

Monash University

10

1

10.0

$617,990

*

RMIT University

3

0

0

-

-

Swinburne University of Technology

4

1

25.0

$470,000

*

The University of Melbourne

8

2

25.0

$884,705

$1,017,637

Western Australia

16

9

56.3

$5,111,828

$7,557,762

Curtin University

4

1

25.0

$290,831

*

Edith Cowan University

2

1

50.0

$499,654

*

Murdoch University

2

1

50.0

$1,069,066

*

The University of Western Australia

8

6

75.0

$3,252,277

$4,691,804

Total

156

52

33.3

$24,453,512

$36,478,542

* 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 2021 (Round 1) applications approved for funding are shown below in Table 5.

Table 5.          Partner Organisation contributions by sector for approved Linkage Projects 2021 (Round 1) applications

Type

 

Cash

In-Kind

Total

   

$

%

$

%

$

%

Government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Federal

 

$113,900

1.2

$1,078,606

4.1

$1,192,506

3.3

Australian state, territory and local

 

$1,133,900

11.5

$3,516,834

13.2

$4,650,734

12.7

 

Sub-total

$1,247,800

12.6

$4,595,440

17.3

$5,843,240

16.0

Industry Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian

 

$6,102,419

61.8

$12,200,630

45.9

$18,303,049

50.2

International

 

$440,000

4.5

$1,516,318

5.7

$1,956,318

5.4

 

Sub-total

$6,542,419

66.3

$13,716,948

51.6

$20,259,367

55.5

Non-profit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian

 

$1,196,753

12.1

$6,594,505

24.8

$7,791,258

21.4

International

 

$125,000

1.3

$287,822

1.1

412,822

1.1

 

Sub-total

$1,321,753

13.4

$6,882,327

25.9

$8,204,080

22.5

Higher Education

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International

 

$0

0.0

$89,463

0.3

$89,463

0.2

 

Sub-total

$0

0.0

$89,463

0.3

$89,463

0.2

Other

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other

 

$760,900

7.7

$1,321,492

5.0

$2,082,392

5.7

 

Sub-total

$760,900

7.7

$1,321,492

5.0

$2,082,392

5.7

 

Total

$9,872,872

100

$26,605,670

100

$36,478,542

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 107 instances of collaboration with Partner Organisations (including multiple collaborations with a number of organisations) in Linkage Projects 2021 (Round 1) giving an average of 2.06 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 2021 (Round 1)

Field of Research category

Number of applications approved#

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

Mathematical Sciences

1

*

Physical Sciences

1

*

Chemical Sciences

4

$2,597,221

Earth Sciences

3

$2,480,561

Environmental Sciences

3

$2,022,167

Biological Sciences

3

$1,735,775

Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

1

*

Information and Computing Sciences

3

$2,392,231

Engineering

16

$11,527,853

Technology

2

$1,619,896

Medical and Health Sciences

2

$2,192,231

Built Environment and Design

1

*

Education

2

$2,749,999

Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

1

*

Studies in Human Society

4

$1,335,436

Law and Legal Studies

1

*

Studies in Creative Arts and Writing

1

*

History and Archaeology

3

$1,839,972

Total

52

$36,478,542

# 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 543 Chief Investigators (CIs) in this round, 189 were female, 353 were male and one chose not to specify their gender. The success rate for female, male and unspecified CIs in Linkage Projects 2021 (Round 1) is 35.4 per cent, 34.0 and 100 per cent respectively. 

Success rates of CIs by career age and gender in Linkage Projects 2021 (Round 1) are presented in Figure 1. CIs who did not provide gender information (0.2 per cent) and CIs who did not specify the date of completion of their PhD (or equivalent) or who do not hold a PhD (2.2 per cent) are not represented in the figure below.

Figure 1.   Participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in Linkage Projects 2021 (Round 1) 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 156 applications considered, applicants foreshadowed 129 instances of collaboration with researchers in 39 overseas locations. Of the applications approved for funding, 26 foreshadowed 45 instances of collaboration with researchers in 21 overseas locations (Figure 2).

Figure 2.   International collaborations by location on approved Linkage Projects 2021 (Round 1) applications*

*The top 8 international collaboration locations are listed in Figure 2 and the remaining locations are grouped in the ‘Other’ category.