Science grants get an increase

James Riley
Editorial Director

Government has won bipartisan support from Labor for an increase in the spending cap for the Australian research grants scheme.

South Australian Labor MP Nick Champion says the Opposition will support the increase from in the scheme from $758 million in 2017-18 to $771.93 million in 2019-20, via the the Australian Research Council (ARC) Amendment Bill 2018.

Mr Champion, who is the shadow assistant minister for manufacturing and science told the parliament one of the drivers of Australia’s success in research has been the provision of competitive grant funding programs by the ARC and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Karen Andrews: Bipartisan support for lifting the cap on science grants

“Researched funded by the Australian Research Council allows Australian thinkers to produce outcomes that will help our country become more creative, productive, resilient and better equipped to face and understand the developments of the 21st century,” he said.

“We understand the value of the Australian Research Council and we understand what it has achieved for the nation when we properly fund science and research,” he said.

Under the amendment, the ARC will be able to continue to administer financial assistance as part of the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP). The NCGP comprises of two programs –Discovery and Linkage – under which the ARC funds a range of schemes that provide funding for basic and applied research, research training, research collaboration and infrastructure.

The original proposal to increase the grants spending cap of the ARC was outlined in the May budget. The Bill was then introduced to Parliament by Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews, just days after the Budget was announced.

At the time, Ms Andrews said the amendment would “ensure that the ARC can continue to support Australia’s best researchers to undertake the highest quality fundamental and applied research and research training.”

“Australia must ensure we attract and retain world-class researchers and entrepreneurs and that is why we bring this bill to the House to ensure the Australian Research Council can play its role in supporting and expanding Australia’s research strengths and support the many thousands of direct and indirect jobs that our research and scientific capabilities sustain,” she said.

According to Ms Andrews, it builds on the government’s continued effort to invest in science, research and innovation, having spent approximately $10 billion across all portfolios in 2017-18 alone.

Last year, the government announced 117 new collaborative research projects under the ARC’s Linkage Projects program. The projects totalled $46.5 million and supported collaborations with 274 partner organisations, which have separately pledged to provide $79.7 million to support those research projects.

The new linkage projects were selected under the new continuous application process introduced as part of the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.

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