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Cooperative Research Centers Association

Conference and Budget Reflections


Innovating with Asia 2014, the CRC Association’s annual conference just held in Perth, was a resounding success.

Naturally, there was uncertainty in the air at this year's conference after the recent announcement of an $80 million reduction in the CRC Program.  The Hon. Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, gave the audience a significant confidence boost when he announced—at the awards dinner—the government's commitment to CRCs and that there will be a Round 18.

From my understanding, Mr Baldwin’s comments should not be interpreted as simply “business as usual”. He was reflecting that the government maintains a significant budget for the CRC Program in the forward estimates. However, there is a Review of the program to come and one would expect changes that reflect the views and priorities of the new Australian government.

It is worth clarifying the Review. Programs like the CRC Program are regularly reviewed by government on a five-year basis. The coming Review was actually due in 2013 but the then Minister, Chris Bowen, deferred it until 2014. It would cause more disruption in an election year. Previous reviews of the CRC Program have been conducted in 2008 (by Prof. Mary O’Kane), 2003 (Howard Partners) and 1998 (Don Mercer and John Stocker). Each time there has been a general review of innovation, CRCs get drawn in and we have commissioned Impact Reviews ourselves, so one could argue that the coming review will be the 12th serious look at the program.

I think we should expect changes from the coming Review. Significant changes in guidelines have resulted from previous reviews. The CRC Association will suggest some and obviously government, industry and research organisations will all have a say. Draft terms of reference and the names of potential reviewers are currently under consideration by the government.

Innovating with Asia reflected some trends that I think we could anticipate will be examined in the Review. For example, the Early Career Researchers Showcase was a highlight once again, and I think it reflected just how much CRCs are concentrating their training programs on industry issues. Each of the early career researchers was highly focussed on the impact of their research and how it could be delivered to maximise that impact. Congratulations to Luigi Vandi of the Advanced Composites CRC on his win.

Innovation specialist Thomas Barlow pointed to the shift to Asia/Pacific in new knowledge generation and collaboration. We see this reflected in the CRC Benchmarking Study which indicates 22 projects in Asia ranging from $42,000 to over $4 million. Thomas also noted the changing trend in research participants in CRCs, with a much larger percentage of CRC funding going to the technical universities in recent times. CRCs have contributed significantly to the research capacity of those universities.

For me, the ultimate impression is the increasing drive given to each CRC from its industrial participants. This was evident in many talks but particularly so in the final session where all five resource industry CRCs presented on the important role of the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector of their industry. METS now accounts for about the same export dollars as gold (behind coal and iron ore), but with greater employment, more widely spread across the nation. Each of the CRCs works really closely with its industry, but in quite different ways according to the nature of their “bit” of the resource sector. For example, the Energy Pipelines CRC works hand-in-hand with its industry association, giving it access to all the players big and small. Deep Exploration Technology fast-tracks its intellectual property into its company participants.

Industry puts in a greater proportion of the dollars to CRCs than it did in the early days of the Program. I think this was on display at Innovating with Asia but will remain a major focus of the coming Review. All governments are looking for more leverage on their scarce dollars and ways of attracting more industry commitment. Expect a Round 18 but don’t expect business as usual, we will need to look very closely at maximising the industry involvement and benefits from the CRC Program. Of course, as those at our conference saw, delivering industry outcomes is the most satisfying thing one can achieve in a CRC, so we should not be afraid of the challenge.
 
Tony Peacock
CEO, CRC Association

Showcasing Early Career Researchers 2014

Five early career researchers braved the stage at the 2014 CRC Association Conference, Innovating with Asia, to deliver a five minute presentation on their research.

The five finalists--Luigi Vandi, Honor Calnan, Jake Lacey, Michael Scott and Binbin Zhang--were chosen from 49 highly competitive entries, all of which were required to submit a 30 second video.

This year, Luigi Vandi from the CRC for Advanced Composite Structures (CRC-ACS) was voted the winner. His project, Understanding Interphase Formation in Thermoset Composite Welding, was presented in a clear and concise manner and thoroughly captivated the audience.

The CRC Association would like to thank all the applicants and give a special thank you to the CSIRO and Jan Bingley (who chaired the session) for their continued support and sponsorship of the ECR Showcase.

We look forward to next year’s applications.

Click here to watch the ECRs' video submissions.
 Mr Luigi Vandi; Dr Honor Calnan; The Hon. Bob Hawke AC; Ms  Binbin Zhang; Mr Jake Lacey; Mr Michael Scott. Click to enlarge

Excellence in Innovation Awards

Innovation in pipeline repair, diamond machining and ram selection were amongst the winners at this year’s Excellence in Innovation Awards.  

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, the Hon. Bob Baldwin, opened the awards dinner by giving a thought provoking address, detailing the government’s commitment to CRCs and announcing that there will be a Round 18. Although, no specifics were given.

The judges were impressed by the high quality of entries for this year’s Awards and were delighted at the breadth of innovation that continues to be delivered by the CRC Program.
 
The winners in the category of innovation--innovation arising from application and use of research--were: 

The Advanced Composite Structures CRC: Novel Composite Clamp for Pipeline Repair.
Advanced Manufacturing CRC: Polycrystalline Diamond Machining.
Energy Pipelines CRC: Fracture control of gas pipelines.

The winners in the category of outreach--innovation in education and training and/or public outreach activities--were:

The Sheep CRC: RamSelect Training Program.
The Vision CRC: Models of Vision Care – Vision Centres Effectiveness
Andrew Mclellan, CEO - The Advanced Manufacturing CRC. Click to enlarge.

Conference Photos

The photos of the Excellence in Innovation Awards Dinner and the Slatyer Address on Science and Society are now in.

You can download the photos from here or from our new Facebook page.

CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation wins Star Award

The CRC Association would like to congratulate the CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation, which not only took out an Excellence in Innovation Award for RamSelect, but the prestigious CRC Star Award.

The CRC STAR Award is the Minister's award which recognises CRCs for high level achievement in engaging with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to drive and deliver innovation.

The Hon. Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, who personally presented the Award  had the following to say:

“The CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation has been instrumental in helping farmers better manage pregnant ewes, leading to improved reproduction rates,”
The Hon. Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry; Professor James Rowe, CEO - CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation; Mr Jeff Murray, President - WA Farmers Meat Selection; Dr Andrew Thompson, Program Leader CRC - For Sheep Industry Innovation.

CRC Benchmarking Study now available to Members‏

Did you know that in 2012/13 CRCs awarded 251 postgraduate research scholarships?
 
About 62% of scholarships were fully funded, but there was a big difference in funding between sectors. In agriculture and health/medicine, about a third of scholarships awarded are fully funded by the CRC. In the manufacturing sector, more than three-quarters of scholarships awarded by CRCs are fully funded. The big difference probably reflects the availability of both scholarships and students in the various sectors. The largest number of scholarships were awarded in the environmental sector.
 
These data are just a snippet of the 131 pages of benchmarking information now available to Members of the CRC Association. Our third annual benchmarking study, undertaken once again by QualData, can be obtained on request from the CRCA office. It is an invaluable source of information for CRC Boards and management.

Contact Jordan Gardner: Jordan.Gardner@crca.asn.au for a copy.

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Cooperative Research News is published fortnightly by the Cooperative Research Centres Association and distributed free of charge. The CRC Association welcomes contributions but does not guarantee the accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of any material published, or in any linked site. The material in this Newsletter may include the views or recommendations of third parties, which do not necessarily reflect the views of the CRC Association, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. Editorial responsibility is accepted by Professor Tony Peacock, Chief Executive, Cooperative Research Centres Association. Inquiries about publication should be directed here.

                                                                      

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