22 November 2011

New CRC funding outcomes exceeds expectations

The Australian Minister for Innovation, Kim Carr, has announced the successful bidders in the 14th Selection Round for Cooperative Research Centres. They are:

• Plant Biosecurity CRC
• Invasive Animals CRC
• Auto CRC
• Polymers CRC
• Low Carbon Living
• Water Sensitive Cities

The first four named above are continuing CRCs and the last two are new.

Ten of the original 26 applicants received interviews. With six successful bids, second-stage applicants that failed to gain funding were:
• Designing Better Cities and Regional Centres CRC
• Autism Spectrum Disorders CRC
• Sustainable Heritage and Responsible Development (SHaReD) CRC
The Minister's announcement can be found here.

Analysis by Tony Peacock, CRC Association
The Minister, Kim Carr, the CRC Committee led by Neville Stevens AO and the CRC Program team at the Department of Innovation, led by Anthony Murfett must have all worked overtime to make today's announcement. The dust had barely settled on the interviews. Bidders (even unsuccessful ones) appreciate the speed and the thoroughness of the effort, as does the CRC Association.

This is unequivocally a good result for the CRC Program. $148 million has been devoted to the six CRCs receiving funding. Expectations were of 3-4 CRCs receiving perhaps $100 million in total, so to get to six and $148 million is well beyond those expectations.

Moreover, bidders seem to have been offered the full amount requested, or close to the full amount. The CRCA has noted to the Committee and Government that slashing at budgets reduces the chance of CRCs delivering on their promises. Again, this is a great outcome.

The Cooperative Research Centres Program still has a long way to go to convince Senator Carr's Cabinet colleagues, as well as the Departments of Finances and Treasury to reverse the decline in resources that has seen the number of CRCs drop dramatically in recent years. With six new CRCs funded today, we will still only have 36 Centres in 2012 compared with almost double that number in 2006.

But those comments can wait for another day....

Credit should be given when it is due and today's announcement is a vote of confidence in the CRC Program from the Government. It is a strong vote of confidence in the six successful applicants who have been given the tools they asked for to produce great outcomes for Australia. I'm advised that the $148 million in funding is within the funding profile for the CRC Program. We still expect Round 15 to proceed as planned.

The CRC Association congratulates the six winner bids. We also congratulate the Minister, the Committee and the Department for finding the resources to get six CRCs up, noting especially that all six are receiving the wherewithal to get on with the job.

We recognise it is a devastating time for those that didn't get up. We know that hearts and souls are put into bids. My hope is that bidders will be able to adjust and put forward the bids again, or that other funding options might be possible. It won't make those that failed to gain support today feel any better, but the CRCA is pleased that the Minister has funded 6 of 10 interviewees and that 6 of 26 bids were ultimately funded. This is a lift in the overall success rate from last year and CRCA was concerned that only 4 of 14 interviewees succeeded last round, putting too many applicants through an unfruitful second phase of application.

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