The Cooperative Research Centre Programme (Programme) is a government initiative. Its objectives are as follows:

  • To support science, research and commercialisation;
  • To make Australian industries (especially those in which Australia has a competitive advantage) more competitive, productive and sustainable;
  • To increase research to solve industry-identified problems through industry-led and outcome-focused partnerships; and
  • To encourage and help SMEs to participate in collaborative research.

How Does it Achieve its Objectives?

The Programme achieves its objectives by awarding funds to applicants who are chosen through a competitive process. It contains two funding streams:

1. Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) which support medium to long term industry-led collaborative research. There is no specified limit on the funding available for a CRC; and

2. Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-Ps) which support short term industry-led collaborative research. A maximum of $3 million (ex GST) of funding is available for each CRC-P. However, only exceptional CRC-Ps are likely to be awarded the maximum level of funding.

Use of Programme Funds

Funds must only be used to undertake the activities of the CRC or project of the CRC-P (as applicable). Funds are primarily intended to be spent in Australia and may be used for:

  • Salaries for researchers and support staff, fellowships and student stipends, and direct salary on-costs; or
  • The direct and indirect support costs of research and translation; or
  • Capital Items, such as equipment.

Funds cannot be used to purchase or pay for the construction of facilities such as buildings or laboratories. Furthermore using funds to renovate or extend facilities is only permitted in exceptional circumstances. Generally, it is preferred that the funds are used to pay for the cost of leasing existing facilities.

Funds may only be spent overseas in limited circumstances.

Participant Contributions

Companies must contribute resources to the CRC or CRC-P. The resources they contribute must, at least, match the amount of funding they receive from the Programme.

Eligibility

The Programme is open to all industry sectors and research disciplines and funding is available to organisations from all industry, research and community sectors. However, there are various eligibility requirements.

At least one applicant in a CRC application must be an Australian

  • Industry Entity; and
  • Research Organisation; and
  • A CRC-P application must have among its applicants at least:
  • Two Australian Industry Entities;
    • Including at least one SME; and
    • One Research Organisation.

Applications must evidence the ability to

(i) Match the level of funding requested; and

(ii) Undertake certain essential activities required of a funded company.

Participant Requirements

Once an application succeeds in obtaining funding, the applicant becomes a participant in the relevant CRC or CRC-P and has certain obligations. The Participants are required to enter a Participants Agreement, setting out these obligations.

CRCs and CRC-Ps are also required to enter into Funding Agreements. Funding Agreements are for a fixed amount from the Australian Government during the funding period. There will be no additional funding or extension to the term specified in the Funding Agreement.

International Engagement

CRCs are encouraged to collaborate with international organisations and/or with companies with global supply chains and access to international markets, to provide national benefits to Australia.

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There are many Government initiatives aimed at supporting research, growth and competitiveness. If you would like further information on the Cooperative Research Centres Programme and whether you might be eligible to apply, let our startup lawyers know on 1300 544 755.

Jill McKnight

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