Professor Aiden Bryne, CEO of the ARC has given an early advice as to how the Linkage Project scheme will work from 1 July 2016. He writes:
The changes to the Linkage Projects scheme result from feedback from industry and researchers that the annual cycle does not support collaboration opportunities as they arise. With the move to a continuous cycle, funding will be able to be sought at the right time for the partners and the project and facilitate more enduring partnerships between universities and business. It will also allow researchers and industry partners more time to develop proposals rather than being tied to the need to lodge an application by a set time-frame.
With the continuous application process the ARC will also be moving away from annual decision-making for the Linkage Projects scheme to ensure that decisions are made within six months of application. There also exists an opportunity to make positive decisions on very high quality applications within an even shorter time frame.
A move to a continuous cycle will be a very different way of operating for the ARC and implementing this in a major scheme presents a number of challenges. The NISA announcement requires the ARC to implement a continuous round from 1 July 2016.
As you would be aware, the ARC is currently assessing proposals under the Linkage Projects scheme for funding to commence in the financial year 2016-17, concurrent with the start of the new continuous round. It is imperative for the ARC to effectively manage the transition from the current round to the continuous round. The ARC has been giving some consideration to how to manage the transition and I have set out below our current thinking.
To ensure that there is some funding to support highly competitive proposals that occur as soon as the continuous round commences I am proposing that a small portion of the funding allocated for the current round of Linkage Projects be quarantined. I anticipate that this would be around 10-15% of the proposed allocation. As the success rate for the Linkage Projects scheme is currently around 35%, this will have little impact on high quality proposals that are being currently being assessed in the present round. In the selection meetings planned for April this year I am proposing to identify grants to be funded from 1 July, and a set of grants that we will reserve for funding. In the event we do not receive grant applications of sufficient merit as part of the continuous round process in the latter half of 2016 we will allocate funding to these reserve grants.
In either situation there will be no difference in the total allocation in this scheme for the 2016- 17 financial year. As we move into 2017 funding will be made from 2017-18 allocation.
To ensure that the transition to the continuous process is smooth and equitable, I am also proposing that the Linkage Projects funding rules remain the same for the start of the continuous round, with one change -funding will only start from when the funding agreement is signed rather than from the date identified in the current rules. We will be developing the next round of funding rules that will become available later this year and they will apply to proposals submitted into the system from January 2017.
We will be consulting with the sector on these rules and the changes in the process that are required to run a continuous round in the coming months.
MRO will keep you informed as further information becomes available.