Science and Research Priorities
In May 2015 the Australian Government identified nine Science and Research Priorities: food, soil and water, transport, cybersecurity, energy, resources, advanced manufacturing, environmental change and health. The ARC supports the Australian Government’s Science and Research Priorities, and corresponding Practical Research Challenges, by funding the highest quality research and research training under the National Competitive Grants Program, aimed at building Australia’s capacity in these areas.
National Innovation and Science Agenda
In December 2015 the Australian Government released its National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), which is aimed at improving commercial returns from research.
The ARC is responsible for implementing two NISA measures: a continuous application process under the Linkage Projects scheme, which was implemented on 1 July 2016; and the establishment of an Engagement and Impact (EI) assessment to be conducted concurrently with Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) in 2018.
Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation
On 30 January 2018 Innovation and Science Australia released its strategic plan, Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation (the 2030 Plan). The 2030 Plan makes recommendations to the Australian Government framed around five strategic imperatives, one of which is to ‘Improve research and development effectiveness by increasing translation and commercialisation of research’.
In May 2018 the Australian Government indicated strong endorsement for the 2030 Plan. In the 2018–19 Australian Government Budget, a number of these recommendations were implemented through investment in research and development, including long-term support for national research infrastructure, genomics research, coral reef research and women in science.
The ARC is providing funding through the Supporting Responses to Commonwealth Science Council Priorities scheme for research to inform the artificial intelligence roadmap and ethics framework which were recommended in the 2030 Plan.
National Science Statement
The National Science Statement, released in March 2017, sets out the Australian Government’s enduring science objectives and principles. It also positions the Australian Government to respond to the science elements of the 2030 Plan in a considered and targeted manner. This statement will continue to provide guidance for the Australian Government’s other science-related policies and initiatives into the future.
Inquiry into Funding Australia’s Research
On 9 May 2018 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training launched an inquiry into the efficiency, effectiveness and coherence of Australian Government funding for research. It is focusing on federally funded research agencies, their funding mechanisms and collaborative university research. The ARC provided a submission to the inquiry.
Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan
The Australian Government’s 2016 Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan called for a revitalisation of Antarctic science through the implementation of a coordinated Antarctic science funding model. To progress this, the Department of the Environment and Energy commissioned the Clarke Review to examine the governance arrangements supporting the Australian Antarctic Science Program, and to provide advice on a new governance model. This review made nine recommendations centred on institutionalising long-term collaborative science, ensuring coherent science leadership, integrating strategy and planning, and streamlining administration.
The ARC’s Special Research Initiatives (SRI) scheme provides funding for new and emerging fields of research and builds capacity in strategically important areas. The ARC currently funds several SRIs in a wide range of research areas.
As part of its response to the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan, the Australian Government announced $56 million of funding over seven years to support the work of Antarctic researchers in Australian universities through the ARC’s SRI: Excellence in Antarctic Science. The program is designed to examine the strategic, economic, scientific and environmental significance of Antarctica to Australia. It will foster collaboration between Australian researchers, industry and international stakeholders.
Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, the then Minister for Education and Training (Senator Birmingham), announced $1.2 million for two research projects under the Linkage Projects 2017 scheme. The two projects involve significant partnerships between higher education researchers and other parts of the national innovation system, including industry.
Senator Birmingham announced $4.3 million for 10 research projects under the Linkage Projects 2017 scheme to promote research partnerships between key stakeholders in research and innovation, including higher education institutions, government, business, industry and end-users.
The ARC appointed 47 new members to the ARC College of Experts to replace outgoing members in 2018. These nominations are approved by the ARC CEO for appointments of one to three years on a rotational basis. Its members are experts of international standing drawn from the Australian research community, including higher education, industry and public sector research organisations.
Senator Birmingham released the findings of the 2017 Engagement and Impact pilot and announced the measures for the first full 2018 EI assessment.
Senator Birmingham launched the ARC Training Centre in Alloy Innovation for Mining Efficiency led by Deakin University.
Senator Birmingham announced funding of: $225.6 million for 594 projects under the Discovery Projects scheme; $70.9 million for 197 projects under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award scheme; $7.2 million for 13 projects under the Discovery Indigenous scheme; $28.6 million for 50 projects under the Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme; and $1.1 million for five projects under the Linkage Learned Academies Special Projects scheme.
Senator Birmingham announced $6.9 million for 16 research projects under the Linkage Projects 2017 scheme. University researchers are collaborating with industry to undertake new research projects designed to deliver tangible outcomes to Australia.
The Australian Government announced a $13 million research program to tackle per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment, to be administered by the ARC through the SRI scheme.
Senator Birmingham made two announcements under the Linkage Projects 2017 scheme; $9.2 million to fund 22 research projects and $1.9 million for six research projects that provide support for universities to collaborate with other parts of the innovation system.
Professor Sue Thomas, ARC CEO, announced the appointment of eight Research Evaluation Committee (REC) chairs for the 2018 round of ERA.
Professor Sue Thomas, ARC CEO, announced the appointment of five Assessment Panel chairs for the inaugural round of the EI assessment.
Professor Sue Thomas, ARC CEO, announced the appointment of 140 distinguished researchers as members of 2018 the ERA RECs.
Senator Birmingham announced $3.4 million for 10 research projects under the Linkage Projects 2017 scheme. Together with their research partners, university-based researchers are developing practical solutions to ‘real world’ industry and community challenges.
The Australian Government announced two research projects, worth $417,941, awarded to the Australian Council of Learned Academies to advance Australia’s knowledge and expertise in the emerging areas of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, through the Supporting Responses to Commonwealth Science Council Priorities scheme.
The ARC, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and Universities Australia jointly announced the release of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018 and Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018, to safeguard the quality and integrity of Australian research.
Senator Birmingham announced $26.5 million for 66 research projects under the Linkage Projects 2017 scheme to provide support for universities to collaborate with other parts of the innovation system including industry and community organisations.
Professor Sue Thomas, ARC CEO, announced a joint review of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification to start in 2018. The review will be carried out by the ARC, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Stats NZ, and the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to ensure the research classifications reflect current practice and remain responsive to change in the sector.
Breakthrough technique developed to make ultra-thin metal oxides
Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh; Dr Torben Daeneke
ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technology at RMIT University
ARC Centres of Excellence
Associate Professor Nathan Hart
Virtual plant cell explores the inner world of a plant
To engage the wider community, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology has created a number of targeted education, training and outreach programs, aimed at schools, farmers, teachers, universities, science museums, field days, careers festivals and even pubs.
Professor Harvey Millar
ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at The University of Western Australia
ARC Centres of Excellence
Exploring vision in animals
Researchers have advanced our understanding of how animals see and use colour and colour patterns to sense the world, and how their colour vision has evolved. From this, we can also learn about how this might apply to humans.
Professor Justin Marshall
Queensland Brain Institute based at The University of Queensland
Australian Laureate Fellowships
Researchers helping raspberry farmers to improve yield and quality
Insect pollinators significantly contribute to the world’s biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services within agricultural systems. This work is being conducted in collaboration with commercial raspberry growers at Costa Group and the results of these studies are helping farmers to find the sweet spot where honeybees and wild pollinator visits can maximize raspberry fruit yield.
Dr Romina Rader
University of New England
Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
Low cost precision agriculture for Aussie farmers
Developed by The University of South Australia with the Plant Accelerator at The University of Adelaide and LongReach Plant Breeders, the drone senses a vegetation index—signifying the crop health, moisture and nutrient content, making it easier and more efficient for farmers to manage agricultural land and for breeders to generate new varieties.
Associate Professor Delphine Fleury
ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Wheat in a Hot and Dry Climate, based at The University of Adelaide
Industrial Transformation Research Hubs
Songlines —tracking the seven sisters
The Songlines exhibition tracks the epic story of the Seven Sisters, through sections of five Indigenous songlines that traverse the Western and Central Desert of Australia. The first exhibition of its kind, Songlines is attempting to tell—in an exhibition space—an Indigenous narrative, using Indigenous ways of passing on knowledge, in a highly interactive and immersive way.
Professor Howard Morphy
The Australian National University