The opening of the 7th Round of the CRC-P Program is welcome news. Applications close 28 March and there is plenty of interest, judging from the number of discussions the CRC Association has had in the past few months. The Minister’s announcement that critical minerals will receive priority in the round will spark even further interest in the round.
It is a particularly interesting announcement given the Future Batteries Industry CRC bid is still under consideration in Round 20 of the CRC Program (interviews for the six shortlisted bids were held last Thursday and Friday). If funded, that CRC would conduct very important projects in adding value to Australia’s critical minerals sector and developing a battery industry in this country.
Obviously, there is a massive amount to do to build on Australia’s quite incredible natural advantages in this sector. We lead the world in known deposits of minerals like lithium, cobalt and vanadium but not in their production and processing.
The scope for each segment of the value chain is considerable, with the FBI CRC proposal focusing on battery development. The CRC-P priority will encourage exploration, processing and other novel approaches. Many hundreds of skilled jobs will arise.
Potential applicants that are not in the non-prioritised area should still apply. The CRC-Projects are highly competitive regardless of prioritisation but they can make a huge difference in moving R&D into the market. The CRC Association has made a budget submission indicating that the Program should be boosted in the future.
Applicants should also be aware that the guidelines have changed slightly, the most significant being a change in the weighting of the selection criteria as follows:
- Merit criterion 1 – Project alignment with the Program objectives (25 points)
- Merit criterion 2 – The quality of your research project (25 points)
- Merit criterion 3 – Capacity, capability and resources to deliver the project (25 points)
- Merit criterion 4 – Impact of the grant funding on your project (25 points)
Make sure you not only address the headline of the criteria, but examine the sub-points in each of the merit criteria and be specific about how you application applies in each case. Don’t leave the Committee Members guessing.
Another change is that all payments for successful applicants will be made in advance, which will help with cash flow.