CRC projects receive $32 million in latest funding round

Brandon How

Quantum technology, mRNA vaccines and aerospace manufacturing are among 13 joint research projects to share in $32 million in co-investments through the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centre Projects initiative.

The co-investment made under round 12 of the initiative will add to the $56 million of cash and in-kind contributions from the 62 project partners.

Grants ranging from $100,000 to $3 million were awarded to projects focussing on mRNA-based therapeutics and low emissions technologies as outlined in the Technology Investment Roadmap launched in 2020. The grants can only support up to 50 per cent of project costs under the scheme.

Applications for round 13 of the Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) have also opened, this time focusing on the six national manufacturing priority areas included in the Modern Manufacturing Strategy.

$32 million was shared between 13 CRC projects during the 12th round of funding

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said the CRC-Ps would deepen collaborative efforts between industry and research organisations.

“These projects show how incredible problem solving is possible when businesses team up with researchers to address challenges that affect our lives and how we work,” Minister Price said.

“Not only do CRC Projects lead to tangible outcomes which can improve our future prosperity and open up our businesses to new and exciting markets, but they can create new jobs for Australians.

A project led by Melbourne-based biotechnology firm Denteric received $1.2 million for the development of a mRNA vaccine to fight bacteria, building on the technology’s successful use in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Sydney-based quantum computing company Q-CTRL received $2.75 million for to pursue research into the integration of quantum technology into space manufacturing for defence, and agriculture. In particular, Q-CTRL and its partners will focus on developing remote sensing payloads for space deployment, and underground water detectors for agricultural use.

A hypersonic unmanned aerial vehicle project that received $2.95 million is being led by Queensland-based Hypersonix Launch Systems. The DART CMP can travel at 12 times the speed of sound using a hydrogen fuelled engine with the project being touted as “a world first in delivering a reusable hypersonic UAV.”

Minister Price said that these projects along with the other grant recipients in round 12 displayed the “type of ingenuity and research firepower we have in Australia”.

Eligible projects are those that run for less than three years, involve an Australian research organisation, and at least two Australian industry partners. One industry partner must be a small or medium sized business. The Minister for Industry, Science, and Technology makes the final approval for the allocation of grants.

The federal government has set aside $773 million to be distributed between 2021-22 and 2024-25 to CRCs and CRC-Ps. The division of funding between the two stream is not specified.

Almost 190 CRC-Ps have shared in more than $408 million in Commonwealth support since 2016. These have involved over 900 partners from industry, research, government, and community organisations.

The next round of grants will go to projects working in the six national manufacturing priorities from the government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy. The priorities are resources technology and critical minerals processing, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence, and space.

The CRC program was established in 1990 by the Commonwealth to facilitate industry-led research in collaboration with research organisations. It focuses on creating new products, services and industries.

Editor’s note: This story originally incorrectly stated that Sydney-based Q-CTRL is Canberra-based. 

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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