July 2016 Newsletter

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Note from the Manager

The SIEF-funded Research Projects have made significant progress with Climate Change, RAFT, Big Data and Renewables having come to the end of their SIEF Funding. SIEF have positioned the projects to secure additional funding and, in some cases, has been instrumental in moving the projects to a position where future commercialisation or ongoing collaborations are viable options.

SIEF support of the Synchrotron is also drawing to a close. The Trustee was delighted to hear that, in December 2015, the Federal Government announced a $520 million, ten-year investment in the ongoing operations of the Australian Synchrotron, as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. The Synchrotron will become a platform of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

The SIEF Team would like to thank all PoS award recipients who submitted their annual milestone report by the due date. SIEF wishes the 2013 recipients well as they finalise their studies and submit their Final Reports.

SIEF has commissioned the CSIRO Impact Team to review the SIEF Portfolio with evaluation of triple bottom line impact from eight case studies underway. Preliminary bibliometric analysis covering 2011 to 2016 indicates the quality of science undertaken in the overall SIEF Portfolio is high. 263 publications have acknowledged SIEF as a funding body (Web of Science) and citations ae 105% higher than the global average (the national average is 39% above global). SIEF funded researchers have co-authored papers with 279 organisations representing over 35 countries.

Dr Melissa Straffon
SIEF Manager
(03) 9545 7952 or 0408 134 581

Two new programs have been established and are open for applications: Stem+ Business Fellowship Program for early career researchers (see below) and the Experimental Development Program

STEM+ Business Fellowship Program

The STEM+ Business Fellowship Program provides a mechanism to build connections and collaboration between Early Career Researchers (ECR), Research Organisations and small to medium sized Australian businesses (SMEs). By placing researchers-in-residence, the STEM+ Program aims to foster long term knowledge flow between research and industry, and raise the profile of STEM disciplines as integral to industrial competitiveness. Working together, ECRs, Research Organisation and SMEs will aim to accelerate the adoption of new ideas and technology to develop innovative commercial solutions that builds Australia’s national competitiveness.

On behalf of the SIEF Trustee, CSIRO’s SME Connect team will work with businesses and research organisations to establish projects and facilitiate financial assistance of a SIEF STEM+ Business Fellowship grant of up to $105,000 per annum.

Experimental Development Program

The SIEF Experimental Development Program (EDP) is designed to address a significant gap in current funding options available to eligible organisations for progressing technology development to a stage suitable for attracting commercial investment and market uptake. The EDP will play an important role in the overall SIEF Portfolio.

Within two months of launch the EDP had already funded a project Prawn RNAi, to commercialise an antiviral mechanism to protect against prawn disease. SIEF are continuing to receive other proposals from tremendous multi-disciplinary projects, each with great potential impact.

ANAO Performance Audit of the Administration of the gift from CSIRO

In July-December 2015 the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) undertook a performance audit to assess the effectiveness of the administration of CSIRO’s Gift to the Fund. As required by the Auditor-General Act 1997, the ANAO report was tabled in the Parliament (February 2-16) and a copy of the audit was provided to the Minister for Industry Innovation and Science.

The report concluded that CSIRO’s Gift to the Fund has generally been well administered. In particular, the approach to designing the arrangements for managing the Gift was sound. These arrangements, including the processes for administering financial assistance from the Gift, have been operating as intended. Suggestions made for potential improvement of future operations have been considered, including undertaking a formal evaluation, which is currently underway. Read the ANAO report here.