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Estimates: Education and Employment Legislation Committee (Australian Research Council)

Estimates & Committees
Lee Rhiannon 3 Jun 2015

Senator RHIANNON: I would like to ask about the Industrial Transformation Research Program. I understand that the purpose of this $40 million program is to foster closer collaboration between industries and universities. What I am trying to understand is whether the research hubs based at the universities are collaborating with specific businesses or just industry in a generic sense?

Prof. Byrne : I would like to perhaps table this document-

CHAIR: Hello! You can tell it is Education today!

Prof. Byrne : which completely and fully answers your question.

Senator RHIANNON: I hope so.

Prof. Byrne : When you get a copy I will go through it. The $40 million refers to the most recent allocation under the ITRP, and this one refers to all allocations under the ITRP. The ITRP, the Industrial Transformation Research Program, is a program specifically designed to connect researchers and universities to industry.

Senator RHIANNON: Which specific industries are looking at this?

Prof. Byrne : The industry areas articulated are those articulated by the government as priority areas. They include advanced manufacturing, medical devices, mining, oil and gas, and food and agribusiness. This map shows the universities-they are indicated in yellow-and the businesses, some of which are very specific businesses, are indicated in red. The grants are not directly connecting to government agencies, but when I did this network map I was very heartened to see the CSIRO come out in this network map. The CSIRO is a Commonwealth agency with a specific focus on industry and industry-led research. This has come out in this network map as being connected through our research programs, which are specifically designed to connect researchers to industries. What you see on this map are the industries in the red diagrams, with the names of all the partner industries, and the universities are in yellow.

CHAIR: There is not a lot though, is there, really?

Senator RHIANNON: The title is 'ITRP linkages: all rounds'. Does 'linkage' mean monetary connection, a research connection? Could you define what 'linkage' means.

Prof. Byrne : Yes, indeed. It is a monetary connection, because there is a requirement for a financial contribution from the industry partners. It is a roughly fifty-fifty contribution from the government and from industry.

Senator RHIANNON: As there are so many they may be here, but I was interested in these three hubs: the ARC research hubs for offshore floating facilities, for mining restoration and for liquefied natural gas futures-different trainee centres and different hubs. Are those three on here?

Prof. Byrne : I believe they are, but finding it might be a little bit tricky without my glasses. It is almost impossible.

Senator RHIANNON: It would be helpful if we could find them, because my question was: is the business collaboration with those three centres?

Prof. Byrne : I hesitate because we do not label them by the specific names, only the companies. I think the one you are talking to is probably the Chevron energy one, but I would need to go back to the actual outcomes to determine that correctly.

Senator RHIANNON: With the ARC Research Hub for Offshore Floating Facilities, I was hoping when I saw this incredibly connected diagram that that would be there with everything connected to it. Do I need to give that question to you to take on notice?

Prof. Byrne : Yes, we had better take that one on notice. No-we can do it now. I was right: for that one, the ARC research hub for offshore floating facilities-this is a grant that we give to the University of Western Australia-the partner organisations named are Woodside energy, Lloyd's Register Global Technology Centre, the Bureau Veritas marine and Shell Australia.

Senator RHIANNON: I have found them on the right-hand side of the diagram, but I cannot find the actual ARC Research Hub for Offshore Floating Facilities.

Prof. Byrne : That is a research hub within the University of Western Australia, so that is the University of Western Australia, which, again, is on the right-hand side in the middle of that diagram.

Senator RHIANNON: Okay, I can see that. Thank you. Which university does the ARC Training Centre for Mining Restoration committee come under?

Prof. Byrne : With the ARC Training Centre for Mining Restoration, Curtin University is the administering organisation for that grant. Again, Curtin University is on the right-hand side of that diagram, further down than the University of Western Australia. The partner organisations for that one are the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, BHP Billiton, Karara Mining, Sinosteel, Rocla Quarry Products, Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia, Cliffs Asia Pacific Iron Ore Management and Polaris Metals-a good selection of different organisations.

Senator RHIANNON: Which one does the third one-the Training Centre for Liquefied Natural Gas Futures-come under?

Prof. Byrne : With the Training Centre for Liquefied Natural Gas Futures, the University of Western Australia is also the administering organisation for that grant. Chevron energy is a partner, and Woodside, Shell, Guodian New Energy Technology Research Institute, GE Oil and Gas Australia, Virtual Materials Group, Clough Limited, Samsung Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering are partner organisations.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you, it has arrived at a good time. If I understand correctly, the $14 million in ARC funding goes to those three centres.

Prof. Byrne : No.

Senator RHIANNON: To all the centres?

Prof. Byrne : It goes to all of them. The numbers are: the ARC training centre for liquefied gas is $4.5 million and I think it is over a four-year period; the ARC training centre for mining restoration is $4.9 million; and I have lost the last one.

Senator RHIANNON: Offshore floating facilities.

Prof. Byrne : Yes, University of Western Australia, $4.99 million or $5 million near enough.

Senator RHIANNON: So that is about $14 million?

Prof. Byrne : No, of those ones, that is about $15 million.

Senator RHIANNON: Okay, more. That has been provided to the centres. Did the government set any guidelines or instructions to determine the priorities of these hubs?

Prof. Byrne : The priority areas certainly are articulated by government. The priority industry areas which are aligned broadly with the growth centres.

Senator RHIANNON: Is a priority you are setting out, oil, gas and mining?

Prof. Byrne : Correct.

Senator RHIANNON: Is it possible to get a breakdown of the recipients of ARC funding by topic, like for agriculture, forestry, mining-the different areas.

Prof. Byrne : Yes, we can certainly do that for you.

Senator RHIANNON: Can we do if over time?

Prof. Byrne : We certainly can.

CHAIR: Can we add environmental?

Senator RHIANNON: I think whatever categories you have.

Prof. Byrne : Certainly we can do that for you, and we can easily do if for fiveish years. It is much harder going back further, if five years is sufficient.

Senator RHIANNON: Let's start with that, that would be good. It gives us by category and by total, obviously, so we can see the trends.

Prof. Byrne : Very happy to do that for you.

Senator RHIANNON: How many future fellowships will be funded by the government for each year of the forward estimates?

Prof. Byrne : The minister has announced that we can run around 50 future fellows.

CHAIR: This might actually be a question better for 5.6, research capacity, when we have the department.

Prof. Byrne : It is our program. The minister has indicated that we can proceed with a round of 50 future fellows.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you.

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