Driving research and delivering results for Australia
"The Australian Government will create three new Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) and extend four existing CRCs to drive research that will deliver practical benefits to industry and the community in fields including manufacturing, agriculture, health care and data security.
Announcing almost $186 million in funding, Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane said CRCs bring together key industry partners, world class researchers, the community and Government to create new opportunities and develop solutions to assist Australian industries.
“The benefits of collaboration are well known. These seven industry-driven CRCs will bring together more than 130 organisations across Australia and internationally, including 60 industry partners and organisations in Asia, Europe and United States,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“CRCs provide amazing opportunities. Australian companies such as EOS Space Systems will collaborate with world class researchers and large multi nationals such as Lockheed Martin to develop new technologies, gain access to global markets and improve their competitiveness.
“The CRC Program is a joint effort - since 1991, the Australian Government has committed more than $3.7 billion to CRCs and CRC participants have contributed a further $11.7 billion in cash and in-kind support.
“Significant funding for long term research projects allows CRCs to tackle ambitious projects. Strong competition for funding results in high quality projects being supported and I am sure these CRCs will continue to deliver major benefits to Australia.”
The three new CRCs are:
- The Rail Manufacturing CRC ($31 million) which will develop products, technologies and supply chain networks to increase the capability and globally competitive position of the rail industry.
- The Data to Decisions CRC ($25 million) which will develop robust tools to maximise the benefits that Australia’s defence and national security sector can extract from big data to reduce national security threats.
- The Space Environment Management CRC ($19.8 million) which will monitor, analyse and manage space debris and develop new technologies and strategies to preserve the space environment for the benefit of Australia.
The four extended CRCs are:
- The Hearing CRC ($28 million) which will develop new devices, therapies and service delivery models to improve the prevention, detection and remediation of hearing disorders.
- The Cancer Therapeutics CRC ($34 million) which will build on the drug-discovery engine it has already created to discover effective new drugs for major cancers and improve the lives of Australian children with cancer through tailored and personalised treatment.
- The Capital Markets CRC ($32.4 million) which will develop operational technology solutions to enhance the integrity and efficiency of financial and health markets in Australia and globally.
- The CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation ($15.5 million) which will enhance sheep wellbeing and productivity, value-based trading of sheep meat and deliver affordable technologies to transform the Australian sheep industry.
“In addition to this funding, the Advanced Manufacturing and Manufacturing Industry Innovation CRCs are well positioned to assist the Australian manufacturing industry to adapt to new, high tech manufacturing processes and will assist in opening new markets. These applications displayed merit and are proposing to address issues of national importance. As such I have asked these CRCs to submit a combined proposal for my consideration.”
More information about the successful new and extended CRCs is available at http://www.crc.gov.au/Selection-Rounds/16th-Selection-Round/Pages/Assessment-Outcomes.aspx.
Applications for the 17th CRC Program selection round will open on 3 March 2014 and close on 3 July 2014."
Commentary by Tony Peacock, CEO, of the CRC Association.
Well, it took a while for the announcement to come out, but when it finally did, the Industry Minister didn't muck around. He has funded a couple of bold new CRCs, strongly backed current performers and has given clear direction that he wants a highly potent manufacturing CRC.
Once again, the CRC Program has funded successful CRCs for the amounts sought. The Round was initially announced by Chris Evans (14 months, but three Ministers back) with $240 million available and $50 quarantined for manufacturing CRCs. Since that time the Lowitja Institute (CRC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health), the Antarctic CRC and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC were all funded as "priority public good CRCs" to a total of $97 million. With $186 million announced today and an unknown amount reserved for the combined manufacturing CRC, the government looks to have used every dollar available to it.
There are a number of surprises in the Industry Minister's announcement. The biggest by far is that two of the manufacturing bids presented were rejected in their current format and asked to come together. This is a clear message that the government wants to see research institutions drop territorial disputes and serve the needs of the country. The government has signalled that it will not be a passive investor in CRC bids, but will give direction.
Future bidders should take note.
The next surprise for me was that Cybersecurity and the Wildlife Biodiversity bids both missed out completely. Having participated in some preparation and mock interviews for both, I know they were both extremely strong bids, illustrating the strength of the competition to get a Cooperative Research Centre funded. (This is not to say other unfunded bids weren't strong - I don't have equal knowledge of every bid in this large round)
To me, Space Environment Management CRC illustrates the ambition of the CRC Program. The rate at which we are accumulating spaces debris will render space too cluttered to be usable in a matter of decades. Australia has scientific and geographic strengths in understanding and tracking space junk. The CRC proposal has brought in necessary international expertise and addresses the issue with the view to building a whole new business model that is sustainable if a series of technical and policy milestones can be achieved. Great science, pieced together to make a full story that can lead to a new industry - that's been worth the wait.
There is a grieving process with losing out on a CRC bid. People pour their heart and soul into a bid over a long time. The passion associated with the upside of a CRC has that deep disappointment when the chance to perform doesn't come. My commiserations are with those bidders.
My advice, stay off Twitter for the next week or so and most of all, don't let an unsuccessful bid deter you from trying again.