Round 11 f grants was late in getting announced but this might be because it includes two regional projects, with a specific budget allocation. When Barnaby Joyce took the Deputy PM role, the Minister for Regional Affairs also changed and is now Senator Bridget Mackenzie. Having a couple of ministers involved, one of them new in the role, might have complicated getting the announcement ready.

This Round, the 11th, is much larger than the 10th, which was controversially small and prioritised waste and recycling. This generated a backlash from industry which had no forewarning that it would be limited.   So the government had a bit more available for this $47m round, including the extra regional funding. There are no figures on the success rate, but it is understood grants made were for the amounts requested, at an average $2.1m. Four projects receive the maximum available grant of $3m. Funding for seven is below the maximum, but above $2.5m. The smallest  grant is $250,000.

Fifteen universities are named as participants with UNSW named on five of the grants (retaining what has become its normal spot). RMIT is on four, USyd and UQ on three each, UTS and Uni Melb on two and one each for Monash, UWA, Uni Newcastle, UNE, Federation Uni and Flinders Uni, QUT, Curtin and Uni Adelaide. CSIRO is named on three, with no participating university on any of those three grants. The only other grant with no university participant has the Chemistry Centre (WA) as the named research participant.

Swinburne U and UniSA, which usually feature on any CRC-P announcement are absent.

The involvement of the Minister for Regions is hopefully a forerunner to a wider involvement in the CRC-Ps by other ministers.

The model is working very well and can serve as a means of doing research across the broad interests of the Federal Government. Industry has taken to the grants which offer enough scale and a high level of control for companies while drawing on academic talent and equipment to get things done in a relatively short timeframe. If the Government sees R&D needs coming out of the Banking or Aged Care Royal Commissions, or from issues in the NDIS or other portfolios, throwing in some resources to the CRC-P, as has happened for the Regions portfolio, makes a lot of sense.

Tony Peacock is a former head of the CRC Association. He chairs the Australasian Pork Research Institute, which is a participant in one of the successful grants


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