Cooperative Research Centers Association

CRC Review Update

No matter what happens in the CRC Review, no one will accuse reviewer David Miles of taking it easy.

Last week, Mr Miles was on the road with the CRC programme staff in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for open forums. On Friday, Mr Miles met with University Australia’s gathering of Deputy Vice Chancellors for Research.  This week, Mr Miles is in Canberra with an open forum and separate meetings with the CRC Committee and several directors of the CRC Association.The closing date for submissions is 11 November.

At each forum Mr Miles has made several points: he doesn’t want to read “War and Peace”; he is interested in your “best points” on the CRC programme; and he isn’t personally wedded to the terms of reference. He is more interested in your views - you don't need to adhere to the Terms of Reference. In other words, he is genuinely interested in your views about CRCs and how they might be improved.

The CRC Association is currently finalising our submission.  In addition, the Association has been consulted by many science and business bodies on their own submissions. We encourage CRCs to prompt their participants to make their views known. In particular, it would be very helpful for industry participants to pen a few words. The short notice for the consultations made it difficult for industry people to attend (although good numbers did attend) and it is clear that government wants to particularly understand how the CRC programme works for industry.

Research Impact In Spotlight

The Government has joined the call for changes to the Australian research system to improve research impact, specifically commercial returns from research. The Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane and the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne released a joint discussion paper last week to raise the possibilities for reforms. The paper raises a raft of actions the government could take to boost impact of research, inviting comment from the community by mid-November.
Around 20 actions are raised as possibilities in the paper, including changes to research block arrangements to support greater industry and end-user engagement. The CRC Association has strongly advocated for a number of years that the current block funding arrangements discourage researchers from engaging with industry. The Higher Education block funding is the second largest item in the Commonwealth's total innovation spending of around $9b. The largest is the R&D tax income foregone, so block funding represents the largest item government can easily use as a policy tool.
"We are delighted that the government is looking seriously at boosting commercial returns from Australia's research," said Tony Peacock from the CRC Association.

"Relatively small changes in block funding would have immediate, meaningful changes on campuses across the country. Many researchers that want to engage more with industry are discouraged from doing so because of the supposed prestige of snagging 'Category 1' funding and the associated returns to the university".
Measurement of research impact is another area of possible change. Dr. Peacock says the CRC Association wants to see the simplest possible approaches. "CRCs did incredibly well in the major ATN-Go8 Research Impact trial, with around a third of the case studies associated with CRCs - a great outcome for less than 2% of the expenditure. But we worry about the huge additional workload on researchers if they all had to regularly undertake an exercise of that magnitude."
The CRC Association favours using the current Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) system to add a measure of engagement and impact. The Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering (ATSE) recently proposed how ERA might add a measure of Impact and Engagement for Australia on an A to D scale. 
"The ATSE approach is a no cost way where we could have a national engagement and impact measurement published along with the ERA scores next year. We could argue for years to try and finesse a better metric, but the IEA proposal from ATSE is already well thought through and I think we would see researchers respond in a very positive way," said Tony Peacock.

Alex Sloan and Tony Peacock Chat With Dr Elizabeth Beach, CRC Researcher at the National Acoustics Laboratories on 666 Afternoons.

Recent CRC Research Highlights

Auto CRC: The Auto CRC and VAPC has won first prize in the manufacturing section at this year's Society of Automatic Engineers - Australasia for their user-friendly software systems that helps plastics engineers design the optimum mould for injection moulding operations.

Advanced Manufacturing CRC: Stem cell company Cytomatrix has formed a joint venture with Swiss company HeiQ Materials AG. As part of this joint venture, a new company called HeiQ Australia has been formed and a manufacturing facility established in Geelong, Victoria, in partnership with Deakin University and the Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (AMCRC).

This facility will produce the short nanofibre materials required to produce and scale up Cytomatrix’s stem cell technology.

Click here to read more.

CRC Mining: CRC Mining has collaborated with Elexon Mining and Rio Tinto to develop the ground-breaking Cave Tracker system. A step-change technology for mining, the system enables real-time measurement of in-cave material movement, whilst the ore is still flowing in the cave.

The Cave Tracker technology uses ruggedised beacons and detectors deployed in and around the orebody, enabling real-time 3D tracking of cave material. With capability of monitoring every few days for over 10 years, the system will give a detailed, time-lapsed view of actual underground rock flow.

Click here to read more.

Passing of Geoff Miller AO

Members of the CRC Community that knew Geoff Miller AO will be saddened to hear of his passing on 10 October.
Geoff was a very successful public servant who had a big impact on research in Australia. As Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy, Geoff worked with Minister John Kerin on the hallmark legislation that set up Australia's famed Rural R&D Corporations. The RDCs gave control of research to levy payers, revolutionising how industry and research worked together.

Where science meets law – DibbsBarker appoints new Special Counsel, Rachel Sciascia

CRC Association Member DibbsBarker has appointed a new Special Counsel, Rachel Sciascia.
Rachel is the latest recruit to the 300-strong firm, taking on the role of Special Counsel with the Intellectual Property, Technology and Competition (IPT&C) team in Brisbane.
Rachel’s legal credentials include acting for Bond University, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, Plant Biosecurity CRC and Resiweb Limited on a variety of instructions including intellectual property and corporate & commercial.

Adding another string to her bow, Rachel previously managed a genetic research centre, giving her unique insight into the life sciences market.

Click here to continue reading.

DSTO looks forward to 2035

Chief Defence Scientist Dr Alex Zelinsky has launched the Forward 2035: DSTO Foresight Study at the National Press Club in Canberra.

Speaking at a Defence Watch Industry Briefing, Dr Zelinsky reinforced that one of DSTO's principal roles is to advise the Australian government on the science and technology best suited for defence and national security.

In the foreword to Forward 2035, Dr Zelinsky states that the study has done something completely different in the way it has imagined the future.

"The study carefully examined the most germane themes [of other forward-looking studies], contextualising them within a defence and national security setting, so that the implications for Australian Defence Science and Technology can be readily contemplated", Dr Zelinksy said.

Click here to read more.

Understanding and Communicating the Value of CRCs

Recent budget cuts and the upcoming review of the CRC programme will continue to put pressure on CRCs to identify and communicate the tangible value that the programme has a proud history of delivering. CRCs provide a unique mechanism to deliver long-term and far-reaching social and economic impacts—the challenge is defining the specific benefits that will be delivered and communicating these in a compelling way.

The Noetic Group’s Chairman, Andrew Balmaks, believes that CRCs are not alone in this regard.

“Government departments, the non-profit sector or anyone who looks to government funding such as CRCs must identify the value in every public dollar they receive” said Mr Balmaks.

The Noetic Group has been working with these organisations for over a decade, using proven approaches such as Investment Logic and Benefits Realisation Planning to better define the value of their investments, from IT projects through to social policy initiatives.

Mr Balmaks emphasises that “Noetic’s approach has proven to be particularly successful in putting forward compelling and evidence-based investment proposals, providing decision makers with confidence that the identified benefits are real, measurable and attributable to the investment in question”.

Noetic is now looking to work with CRCs and explore opportunities to demonstrate the value of its approach.

Some of Noetic’s experiences, observations and lessons from their most recent work have recently been captured in published paper on Investment Management. So if you are looking to give your CRC an edge in being able to communicate the unique value proposition of your program, you can read more via their Noetic Note or contact Andrew directly at (02) 6234 7777 or

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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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