Cooperative Research Centers Association

NCRISIS illustrates the need for Strategy‏

Commentary from Dr Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association
Christopher Pyne's backdown on linking the funding of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme to the university reform legislation has caused a major sigh of relief in the research sector. But the relief is currently only for 12 months and should never have occurred in the first place.
NCRIS is a great scheme. Australia is too small a place for every State or every research organisation to have the latest and greatest bit of "kit". Before NCRIS, that was the way we tended to fund things. The then Major National Research Facilities program was much more competitive and cut-throat. There were some good examples of sharing facilities but not many. NCRIS changed things. Introduced by the Howard Government, the scheme allowed for staffing to run the infrastructure as well as the building and machines themselves. More importantly, NCRIS facilities were developed following extensive consultations in their sector with business plans and governance put in place to maximise their use and impact. 
The so called NCRISIS didn't start with Christopher Pyne. The problem is that NCRIS funding was provided under terminating programs. Think of NCRIS as the poster child for Ian Chubb's call for a much more strategic approach to the funding of science in Australia. The Chief Scientist has long argued that we need to focus and sustain our efforts. We can't afford to do everything, so let's make sure we concentrate our efforts and resources to those areas of need and excellence.
I'm the last one to argue that all current NCRIS facilities should be funded forever and forgotten. Their governance and performance should be subject to regular hard reviews. They need to be responsive and serving their sectors well, no question about it. But Australian science is always going to need world-class infrastructure, so we need to see an ongoing financial commitment within the Budget. The current situation almost guarantees that the staff at NCRIS facilities will have one eye on the job market all the time. 
It is not just NCRIS staff that need greater stability. If we are going to bring industry and science closer together in Australia, we need a much more stable, strategic environment. Businesses are extremely sensitive to changes in public research budgets or policy changes. If you look around the world at industry-government research schemes, the biggest factor in achieving greater industry investment is time. For example, the new British Government Catapult scheme is getting a lot of attention. Catapults aim to attract one-third of their budget from businesses. They are receiving a reasonable time-frame to achieve that aim. It doesn't happen overnight. Catapults are modeled to a degree on the German Fraunhofer Institutes, which achieve about a third (sometimes more) of their resources from industry. But the business model for Fraunhofer has remained stable for over 60 years: "It is in our DNA" said a German visitor to Australia late last year.
Tom Coor, the CEO of the Ontario Centres of Excellence spoke at the Universities Australia conference last week. Tom made the important point that his organisation requires industry matching funds for project work. When I asked Tom if they had that requirement from their initiation 28 years ago, he indicated that it was only possible now because it had taken decades to build confidence with industry. Similarly, Australia's Cooperative Research Centres have taken time for industry to fully commit. In the first round of CRCs 25 years ago, less than 15% of resources came from businesses. In recent rounds it is over 30%. In fact, the CRC Programme resources account for only 22% of current resources going into CRCs, so the government is doing better than the the British Catapult's aspirations of reaching one-third of funding.
We can't predict the future accurately. But one thing that is absolutely certain is that Australia will still need to be investing in science and research. Having a clear strategic plan and long-term vision for that investment will go a long way to ensuring that investment is made wisely. During this year, we will see the Commonwealth Science Council and Ian Chubb deliver a plan that will prioritise where Australia makes its science investments. If it can also shape how those investments are made, it will have a major impact.
Registrations are filling up for the 2015 CRC Association Conference, The Australia 2040 Forum.
This year is the 25th Anniversary of the Cooperative Research Centres Programme. To celebrate this milestone, we are holding our annual conference in Canberra from 25-27 May 2015.

The Australia 2040 Forum will be held on 26 May in Australian Parliament House. We will look back 25 years over the achievements of Cooperative Research Centres and 25 years into the future, examining the challenges and opportunities for Australia in the next quarter century. A showcase of CRC achievements and the Excellence in Innovation Awards will be held in the Great Hall that evening. A series of important workshops will be held on the 27th.
There are only limited spots available at the conference and the workshops. Get in quick to reserve your ticket and get first choice of workshops. Be advised, it is a sitting week and accommodation will fill up. The Association has room blocks at three hotels and accommodation can be booked when registering.
The conference is one month after ANZAC Day and you will have a guided tour of the new World War One exhibit, Australia in the Great War, as part of the Welcome Function. Also in Canberra will be the James Turrell, A Retrospective, exhibit at the National Gallery of Australia. The National Gallery also announced yesterday the option to do the tour nude!

So why not stay over and see some of the sights in Canberra.   

Mark 25-27 May in your diaries now!

Thank you to our sponsors !  

Register Now !


Miles inches closer

The much anticipated Miles Review of the CRC Programme is expected to be provided to Industry and Science Minister, Ian Macfarlane, within days. Departmental staff assisting with the Review have been seeking sign off of case studies from Cooperative Research Centres over the past few days, indicating that the report is in the final stages of preparation. It is not known if a draft report will be released for comment before the Minister forms a response, but this seems unlikely given the timing and precedence.
The Miles Review is the fifth official review of the the CRC Programme, now entering its 25th year. Previous reviews were conducted by Myers (1995), Mercer and Stocker (1998), Howard Partners (2003) and O'Kane (2008). Three major economic impact studies of the programme have also been completed by the Allen Consulting Group (2005), the Insight Economics Group (2006) and again by the Allen Consulting group in 2012, this last including social and environmental outcomes.
In the past, ministers have not issued a formal response to Reviews, but have changed the guidelines for the next funding round as a result. For example, Minister Peter McGauran removed "public good" as a sole aim of a CRC in the 2004 funding round and made it compulsory for CRCs to become incorporated bodies. Minister Kim Carr reversed those changes following the O'Kane Review in 2008 and introduced a 15-year limit on the life of any CRC. 
Minister Macfarlane has consistently pointed to Australia's low ranking on public-private research collaborations - one of the lowest in the OECD. The government's Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda released in October 2014 set out a range of measures to try to improve business collaboration with public researchers. These measures included the five Industry Growth Centres, and both the Minister and Prime Minister have indicated that the policy of bringing industry and public researchers closer together was an ongoing task.
The 17th funding round for CRCs was curtailed on Budget night last year. Only existing CRCs eligible to bid were permitted to go forward in the round. One of those CRCs, the CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction, was interviewed for funding last December, but no decision has been announced to date. The proposed Innovative Manufacturing CRC, which resulted from a request to combine two bids in the 16th funding round also remains unresolved.
In considering the Miles Review, it is expected that the government will make clear the process for the 18th and subsequent funding rounds of the CRC Programme, as well as resolve outstanding bids from the 16th and 17th round.

KnowHow Edition 5 closing

The CRC Association's collaboration with Refraction Media to produce KnowHow magazine has been an outstanding success. KnowHow's "where science meets business" theme is capturing the imagination of a mass science-inspired audience through our distribution deal with Cosmos. In addition, we make sure KnowHow goes into the office of every State and Federal politician and now Austrade is distributing at overseas trade shows. If you want to access this unique audience, contact Karen Taylor, Publisher, at .

Eric Laurenson Medal awarded to Dr Cintia Dotto

The CRC for Water Sensitive Cities CEO, Professor Tony Wong, presented the Eric Laurenson Medal to Dr Cintia Dotto, Monash PhD graduate in the field of water engineering,  for her work on the uncertainty of modelling in urban water systems, which resulted in international recognition and the revision of stormwater treatment targets in Victoria.

The medal will be awarded each year to a recently graduated PhD candidate from Monash University that has demonstrated excellence in these criteria:

  • Quality of PhD thesis based on considerations of examiners’ reports and scientific publications in international journals arising from the thesis
  • Extent to which the research work has seeded or has potential to seed change I practice in water science, engineering and management
  • Role of the candidate in communicating their research findings to industry their candidature

Eric Laurenson, a former Chair of Civil Engineering (Water Resources) at Monash, was an influential figure in engineering hydrology in Australia.

Dr Cintia Dotto and CRCWSC CEO Professor Tony Wong, CEO of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities.

DMTC wins Innovation Award for titanium machining

Significant supply chain improvements in the manufacture of military aerospace components were recognised at Avalon this month when DMTC won the Aerospace Australia Defence Industry SME Innovation Grant prize of $10,000.

The winning project has improved the productivity and cost competitiveness of manufacturing BAE Systems’ Vertical Tail components for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

“Innovation in developing and optimising titanium machining capability for aerospace components were key to these improvements,” says Project Leader Dr Suresh Palanisamy.

The activity involved close collaboration between several supply chain companies and research organisations, including BAE Systems, Sutton Tools, Seco Tools, Vipac Engineers, RMIT University, Swinburne University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland.

The new range of machining capabilities developed by the team are now available to Australian and international companies through global supply chain collaborations and, although developed for aerospace, should also provide opportunity in the land and sea domains for Australian supply chain companies.

Click here for more information.

CRC for Low Carbon Living PhD/Masters Scholarships

Do you have a passion for sustainability and an interest in contributing towards the development of tools for a low-carbon built environment?

The CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) is offering scholarships for PhD and Masters by Research.

For Australian students, these scholarships are valued at $65,000 over two years for Masters and $95,000 over three years for PhD students to help complete your studies. International applications and top-up awards will also be considered. Scholarship positions are available in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

Please contact the CRCLCL Education Leader, Denny McGeorge at or Sara Fagir at to find out more on how you could improve your expertise and career with a CRCLCL research degree.

DibbsBarker CRC Workshops – 25 May 2015, Novotel, Canberra

Rachel Sciascia, Special Counsel and Kerrin Anderson, Consultant of DibbsBarker will run two workshops in Canberra to coincide with the CRC Association Conference.  Rachel and Kerrin are the co-authors of the CRC Governance Guide commissioned by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science and Tertiary Education (now the Department of Industry and Science).

In the morning Rachel and Kerrin will cover issues in establishing a CRC, in which they will cover the Commonwealth agreement, structuring your CRC, CRC governance, IP ownership, IP utilisation and planning an exit.

The afternoon session will be dedicated to winding up a CRC.  This session will cover planning the exit, transitioning to ongoing centres, winding up, the winding up deed and winding up the entities.

You can register for either of both sessions. 

Establishment session will run from 9am – 12pm

Winding up session will run from 1pm – 3:30pm.

Registration is $50 each per session or $80 each for both sessions. Email Rachel Sciascia on to register.

Big boost in female Directors on CRCs‏

Cooperative Research Centres have recorded a significant boost in female participation on their boards in the latest Board Diversity Index from Women on Boards. 
"We've gone from poor to fair" said CRC CEO Tony Peacock on the increase in female participation from 17.1% to 24.2% from 2013 to 2014. 
"We've talked about the issue a lot and held some workshops and taken advice, particularly from senior people at Westpac. It looks like it is working, but my own feeling is that the right percentage of women on CRC Boards overall, if I can use that term, would be somewhere between 40% and 60%".
"We need to keep insisting that CRCs genuinely seek out talented female Directors. There is too much research that shows diversity improves performance for research organisations to ignore potential improvements. Our next step is doing more to keep female talent in the research workforce. We are getting behind the Academy of Science's SAGE program to see if that can make a difference".

The CRC Association will be holding a workshop on diversity at the Australia 2040 Forum.

John Stocker Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) has funding available for up to 6 fellowships commencing in 2016. 
The process of awarding fellowships will begin with an invitation to Australian universities and Publically Funded Research Agencies (PFRA) and Research Institutes to submit proposals. Preferentially, research projects will be collaborative projects between PRFAs and universities. The proposal, which must be submitted via the University Research Office (or equivalent), will identify the eligible Candidate, the proposed project, Lead supervisor and any other collaborating partners.  Proposals will be assessed by a panel of experts drawn from universities, publicly funded research agencies and industry representatives.
SIEF is seeking applications that include a diverse range of Early Career Researchers in order to ensure that it has the strongest field of candidates and projects from which to select.
Further information regarding the terms and conditions of the John Stocker Postdoctoral Fellowship, including eligibility and funding documentation, can be found at

Campus Travel Academic Travel Grant

Campus Travel is excited to announce the return of the Travel Grant for 2015, an exciting initiative open to the entire Australian academic community.

If you’re a student, researcher or academic employee looking to further your knowledge in a specific area of study or research overseas, this is your chance.

Apply today for our $6000 Travel Grant and enrich your studies with the trip-of-a-lifetime. 

About the Travel Grant

The grant includes $5000 worth of air credit from Qantas and $1000 from Campus Travel to be used towards your hotel accommodation, transfers or tours.

The grant is open to employees or students from any Australian university, school, research or academic organisation. The application period runs from now until 30 April 2015.

How can I apply?

In 200 words or less, tell us why you should be given the grant and how you would use the funds to further your work, education or studies through travel.

Your 200 word application MUST be supported with visuals such as pictures, graphics or even a video response. Your images need to be captioned with your name and a brief explanation of what the image is about.

Applications will be judged on creativity, skill, effort and objectives for using the grant for educational advancement. 


View full terms & conditions here

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15 April, Melbourne
InSearch: Unlocking the secrets of Parkinson's
Click here for more information.

25 May, Canberra
DibbsBarker CRC Workshops

For more information click here.

25-27 May, Canberra
Australia 2040 Forum
his year is the 25th Anniversary of the Cooperative Research Centres Program. To celebrate this milestone, we are holding our annual conference in Canberra

Click here for more information.

16 June 2015, Adelaide
National Workshop on Nuclear Energy for Australia
here for more information.

13–17 September 2015, Melbourne
6th International Contaminated Site Remediation Conference (CleanUp 2015)
The conference will provide an international forum to discuss all aspects of contaminated site assessment, management and remediation.
Click here for more information.

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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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