Science and Research Priorities
In May 2015, the Australian Government identified nine Science and Research Priority areas. The nine priority areas are: Food, Soil and Water, Transport, Cybersecurity, Energy, Resources, Advanced Manufacturing, Environmental Change and Health. The ARC supports the Government’s Science and Research Priorities, and corresponding Practical Research Challenges through funding the highest quality research and research training through the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP), aimed at building Australia’s capacity in these areas.
National Innovation and Science Agenda
In December 2015, the Government released its National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), which is aimed at building the commercial returns from research.
The ARC is responsible for implementing two measures announced as part of NISA: a continuous application process under the Linkage Projects scheme, which was implemented on 1 July 2016; and establishment of an Engagement and Impact (EI) assessment to be conducted as a companion exercise to Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA).
Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements (the Watt Review)
In May 2016, the Government announced that it had accepted all 28 recommendations of the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements (the Watt review).
The report contains a number of recommendations relevant to the ARC in the areas of competitive grants programs, intellectual property and assessment of engagement and impact. During 2016–17 the ARC commenced preparations to address those recommendations.
Performance review of the Innovation, Science and Research System
The Government asked Innovation and Science Australia, an independent statutory board, to review the current performance of the innovation, science and research (ISR) system. The review concluded that Australia’s ISR system shows uneven performance. There are some sectors where it performs very well and these are central to our international competitiveness. However in many areas, a lack of connectivity across the ISR system means that strong performance in research is not matched by similar performance in commercialisation.
2030 Strategic Plan for the Innovation, Science and Research System
The Government also tasked Innovation and Science Australia with developing a strategic plan for the Australian ISR system out to 2030. The 2030 Strategic Plan will identify investment and infrastructure priorities and areas for consideration by government. It will also outline how progress can be substantially evaluated. The 2030 Strategic Plan is scheduled to be delivered to government in the last quarter of 2017.
National Science Statement
The National Science Statement, released in March 2017, sets out the Government’s enduring science objectives and principles. It also positions the Government to respond to the science elements of the 2030 Strategic Plan for the ISR System in a considered and targeted manner. The Statement will continue to provide guidance for the Government’s other science-related policies and initiatives into the future.
The ARC introduced a continuous application and assessment process under the Linkage Projects scheme. This is an initiative of the Government’s NISA. [From 1 July 2016]
The ARC hosted a meeting for Directors of new Industrial Transformation Research Program Research Hubs and Training Centres. [29 July 2016]
The Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham (the Minister), announced the outcomes of the 2017 selection round of the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme. Nine outstanding Centres were awarded $283.5 million in funding over seven years. [8 September 2016]
The ARC released the second volume of the State of Australian University Research 2015–16 series—Institutional Insights. The topics covered in this report are: ERA ratings, gender and the research workforce, open access, the volume of submitted outputs in ERA 2015 and the contribution to the national landscape. [13 September 2016]
A major research facility at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, partly funded by the ARC Special Research Initiative for Tropical Health and Medicine, was opened by the Premier of Queensland. [7 October 2016]
The ARC released an ARC Statement of Support for Interdisciplinary Research, outlining processes the ARC has in place to ensure equitable assessment and evaluation of interdisciplinary research under the NCGP and ERA. [14 October 2016]
The ARC hosted the inaugural Gender Equality in Research Laureate Forum, bringing together some of Australia’s most pre-eminent researchers undertaking initiatives to promote gender equality in the research workforce. [25 October 2016]
The ARC hosted a meeting for new Australian Laureate Fellows. [26 October 2016]
The Minister announced the recipients of over 989 new research projects worth $416.6 million across five schemes of the NCGP. [1 November 2016]
The Minister announced the EI assessment pilot. [21 November 2016]
The ARC released an ARC Statement of Support and Action Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers. [14 February 2017]
The Minister and the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced the recipients of the innovation grants for Type 1 diabetes, funded through the ARC Special Research Initiative for Type 1 Diabetes. [15 February 2017]
The Minister announced research projects awarded funding under the Linkage Projects scheme for funding commencing in 2016. [24 February 2017]
The ARC hosted the annual ARC Centre Director’s Forum. The Forum brought together approximately 120 directors and business managers from ARC Centres of Excellence, Special Research Initiatives and Industrial Transformation Research Hubs and Training Centres. [26-27 April 2017]
The Minister announced research projects awarded funding under the Linkage Projects scheme for funding commencing in 2016. [5 April 2017]
The Minister announced research projects awarded funding under the Linkage Projects scheme for funding commencing in 2016. [31 May 2017]
The Minister announced the recipients of over 120 new research projects worth $170.6 million across five NCGP schemes: Australian Laureate Fellowships 2017, Future Fellowships 2017, Industrial Transformation Research Hubs 2017, Industrial Transformation Training Centres 2017 and Linkage Projects 2016. [5 June 2017]
|Purpose||The ARC’s purpose is to grow knowledge and innovation for the benefit of the Australian community by funding the highest quality research, assessing the quality, engagement and impact of research and providing advice on research matters.|
|Key Activity 1||Managing research funding schemes|
|Performance criterion||ARC research funding schemes contribute to the growth of knowledge and innovation in Australia by funding excellent, internationally competitive research projects, fellowships, awards, infrastructure, hubs and centres|
|Key performance indicator||Target||Result|
|1.1 ARC funded research is relevant to Australia’s needs and expectations||Maintain or increase the proportion of ARC-funded research that addresses an area of priority||Result: 67% Target: n/a; first year of measurement|
|1.2 ARC funded research builds Australia’s research capacity and ability to respond to emerging priorities||Maintain or increase the proportion of research that supports research training and early career researchers||Result: 74%
Target: n/a; first year of measurement
|1.3 ARC funded research encourages collaboration among researchers within and beyond the research sector||Maintain or improve the proportion of partner organisations that indicate satisfaction with the research partnerships supported through ARC-funded research (Linkage Projects)||Result: 98%
|1.3 ARC funded research encourages collaboration among researchers within and beyond the research sector||Maintain or increase the extent ARC-funded research involves collaboration with partner organisations, including industry or other end users—Average number of partner organisations involved on a proposal (Linkage Projects)||Result: 2.4
|1.3 ARC funded research encourages collaboration among researchers within and beyond the research sector||Maintain or increase the extent ARC-funded research involves collaboration with partner organisations, including industry or other end users—Ratio of total funding pledged by partner organisations to funding awarded by the ARC (Linkage Projects)||Result: 1.9
|1.4 ARC funded research enhances international engagement||Maintain or increase the proportion of ARC funded research that supports international collaboration||Result: 71%
|1.5 ARC funded research produces outcomes that improve our understanding of the world and/or provide economic, environmental, social, health and/or cultural benefits to Australia||Examples of benefits arising from ARC funded research||Result: See Part 4
|Key Activity 2||Excellence in Research for Australia|
|Performance Criterion||ARC research evaluation frameworks contribute to the growth of knowledge and innovation in Australia|
|Key performance indicator||Target||Result|
|2.1 ERA provides assurance of the quality of research in Australia||ERA reports and activities inform Australian Government policy||Target: Met|
|2.2 ERA encourages excellent, internationally competitive research||ERA reports and activities inform strategic planning at eligible Australian higher education institutions||Target: Met|
|2.2 ERA encourages excellent, internationally competitive research||Research performance of Australian higher education institutions improves||Target: n/a; not measured in 2016–17; next ERA evaluation will be undertaken in 2018|
|2.3 The Engagement and Impact assessment encourages impactful engagement within and beyond the research sector||Research engagement and impact (within and beyond the research sector) is benchmarked||Target: n/a; not measured in 2016–17; first EI assessment will be undertaken in 2018|
|KEY Activity 3||Policy advice|
|Performance Criterion||ARC policy advice contributes to the growth of knowledge and innovation in Australia|
|Key performance indicator||Target||Result|
|3.1 ARC policy advice contributes to and responds to Australian Government policy development||ARC policy reflects government priorities and initiatives||Target: Met|
|3.2 ARC policy advice supports best practice research||ARC policies support the NCGP, particularly industry engagement and research workforce||Target: Met|
|3.3 ARC policy advice engages researchers, including international organisations and researchers||ARC policies reflect national and international policy developments||Target: Met|