Expression of interest 2020/21 Funding call

Industry, researchers, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) or community sectors can submit an EOI. EOI’s which directly align with or respond to one (or more) of the CRCNA's identified research priorities will be viewed more favourably.

The CRCNA’s investment in several strategic research collaborations has identified further priorities for investment in the beef, rice, broadacre cropping, forestry, aquaculture and health sectors.

This EOI we are seeking a research collaboration to deliver similar strategic research for the Northern Australian horticulture sector, as well broader R & D proposals across the agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture and food production sectors.

The CRCNA is seeking Expressions of interest (EOI) which are industry-led and address issues specifically raised in our foundational research.

Key Dates

  • Expressions of interest open – Monday 10 August 2020
  • Deadline for questions – 5pm AEST Wednesday 23 September 2020
  • Expressions of interest close – 5pm AEST  Wednesday 30 September 2020
  • Notification to applicants (successful and unsuccessful) – January 2021

How to apply 

Expressions of interest for the CRCNA 2020/21 funding call have now closed.



Q1. Please expand on what you mean when you refer to “multiple enterprises” in the first research priority for beef.

A1. In relation to the beef sector, there is already a large amount of R & D available across the sector, so we want to ensure any research we invest in is applicable and relevant to a large cross section of the sector/ industry.  For example, a project which only impacts one or two producers would be viewed less favourable than a project with an impact extending to the whole industry or multiple producers.

Q2. Do lead participants needs to be incorporated in Australia i.e. have an ABN?

A2. At least one of the project’s participants must have an ABN, but certainly not all the participants need to have an ABN.  Ideally, the lead participant would have an ABN as this makes contracting a project easier. However, if there is a specific situation where this is not possible, then we’d be prepared to have a conversation around that to see if we can make it work.

Q3 Does an organisation like DAF (Qld Dept Agriculture and Fisheries), which does industry relevant work, need to have an industry partner to be considered for a project?

A3. Yes, it does. Ideally having industry partners demonstrates there are producers/ industry stakeholders who are going to pick up the research and implement it. This shows us there is a strong pathway to impact. Therefore, it’s a requirement of the CRCNA to have industry partners as part of a project.

Q4 What topics will be covered in the next 2 webinars?

A4. The topics will be the same – just at different times to accommodate people’s schedules.  If there is anything specific which you feel we need to cover we’d be happy to hold a webinar or organise a separate meeting on this.

Q5. Can we start working with the project managers at the development of the EOI?

A5. Absolutely. The CRCNA encourages those looking to submit a research proposal as part of our EOI to engage with us early. Those who work with our Project Managers earlier in the process tend to have more successful EOIs as their proposals are more closely aligned with the CRCNA’s objectives and what we’re looking for.

Q6. Can you please provide more detail around what cash & in-kind contributions are?

A6. If we receive a project proposal with a cost, we may pay $100,000 of that cost and expect the reminder to be funded by the project’s participants either through cash or in-kind.  In kind contributions reflect the time, operating costs etc.  Cash needs to be given to the CRCNA before it’s given back to the project.  Generally speaking, projects with higher cash co-contributions are viewed more favourable as it shows you have ‘skin in the game’.

More information about cash and in-kind contributions can be found in our EOI Guidelines.

Q7 On average how many EOIS are usually submitted & how many successful?

A7. In our first year we received 115 EOI submissions in our second year 76 and last year we received 49. I think the fewer submissions is because people knew more about us and what we were looking to invest in. As a general rule about 10 projects have progressed from each round although not all of these make it to final contract.

Some projects ask for small amounts under $100k, others we’ve funded up to $1million. There is no maximum or minimum. However, consider we have $75m to invest over ten years so that’s roughly $7.5m a year not including what it costs to run the CRCNA.

Q8 What is the maximum length of projects you find and the maximum amount you invest?

A8. We fund three-year projects – but will consider longer projects, usually as an extension of a current project which has shown to be working. There is no maximum amount we fund but the most we’ve invested in a single project to date is around $1 million.

Q9. Is the NAILSMA report going to be available before the close of this EOI round?

A9. Hoping so. The report is in the final stages and will need to be approved by the CRCNA Board before it’s published.

Q10. To what extent does the CRCNA consider in kind as contributing towards the matched funding eligibility?

A10. In kind is considered as part of the 1: 1 minimum contribution. We prefer to see at least 25 % cash co-contributions with the rest in-kind. Project proposals with higher cash contributions are considered more favourable in a competitive funding round.

Q11. Can NHMRC/ARC funding be used as matched CRCNA funding? Do you still need industry partners if you have Traditional Owners as partners? Are TOs.  Considered industry?

A11. Yes, TOs would be considered industry.

We can match any funding except any Commonwealth funds.

Q12. How does the CRCNA ensure the research purporting to benefit industry is truth tested against industry priorities & with key industry representatives?

A12. We use our advisory committees to provide us with industry insights and validation. These committees include Director Generals from the jurisdictional agriculture & health departments. We also encourage any industry focused research to engage with key industry stakeholders either has participants or stakeholders.

Q13. Does the CRCNA consider projects with just in-kind contributions?

A13. We can but it is not our preference. Cash demonstrates participants have ‘skin in the game’. However, we acknowledge some sectors and areas have more difficulty securing cash. Without cash the project would need to hold up pretty well on its merits in an open and competitive funding call.

Q14. What period does our grant apply to & when does it start if successful?

A14. We are not grant providers we are co-investors in your research. We work with you from the moment your EOI is deemed successful and taken to contract – which could take up to a year if it’s a complex project but can also take far less if the project concept is developed and the project team is highly motivated to begin.

Q15. What % of health research projects are funded?

A15. There’s no hard, fast rule around the % we allocate to health research but to date we have not found many suitable projects submitted so our % favours agriculture and TO business development projects. We acknowledge this and would like to see more health service delivery projects being funded provided they meet our objectives. 

Q16. Can you match international funding?

A16. Yes.

Q17. Does the CRCNA own project IP?

A17. Our starting position is that all our research is creative with the view it will be shared openly under a Creative Commons license. If people bring their own IP or think they’d want to retain IP during and after the project, then that’s a negotiated outcome. We want our research to be used broadly to grow GDP and jobs and create efficiencies across Northern Australia.

Q18. Can you advise if there are upper/lower funding limits?

A18. There is no maximum or minimum amount the CRCNA invests in projects.

Some projects ask for small amounts under $100k, the most we’ve invested in a single project to date is around $1 million.

While there is no lower or upper level of funding, you should consider we have $75m to invest over ten years, which works out to around $7.5m a year available to fund research and operate the CRCNA.

A project with a higher cash co-contribution may be viewed more favourable in a competitive funding call.

We currently fund 3-year projects.

Q19. Can clinical units with limited research capacity get involved in the EOI by partnering with academic groups?

A19.The CRCNA looks favourably on any research proposal which has strong industry partnerships. There are currently two Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRHs) operating in Central and North Queensland which bring together researchers, healthcare providers, education and training.  There are similar programs operating in the NT and in the Kimberley region of WA. These may be good starting points to identify possible partnerships in the health service delivery sector. The CRCNA can also facilitate the brokerage of partnerships.

Q20. Do you have a budget for health projects given that health has received extremely small CRCNA investment to date?

A20.The CRCNA doesn’t have any constraints around a minimum or maximum amount to invest in individual projects.  We assess each project on its merits and do consider the level of cash and in-kind co-contributions included in the proposal with those with a higher cash component viewed more favourably in a competitive funding round.

The fact we’ve funded a small number of health-related projects to date is likely due to our very narrow focus in northern health service delivery, so the number of suitable EOIS and projects which meet our remit has reflected this. By comparison, agriculture is very broad focus area, so we’ve found a higher proportion of projects in this area more aligned to our remit.

Q21. What constitutes an industry partner for health, considering the small number of private actors operating in this space in Northern Australia.

A21. The CRCNA would consider the health industry and anyone working in the sector delivering health services and care or training as industry partners.

Q22. Will a project around the use of food waste to produce energy be considered?

A22.Yes. We can invest in value-adding of agricultural produce like food, so food waste is something we’d consider looking at. If it’s producing energy, then that adds additional benefit.

Q23. Please give further information on the Education Program and training opportunities.  Will the CRCNA be finding Masters/ PhD scholarships?

A23.  Yes, we are funding Masters and PhD scholarships you can visit the Education Program area on our website to see more information about what we offer.

At this moment this program is being managed by Brondwen MacLean on a temporary basis while we work out the resources required to deliver the program.

In addition to doing your PhD as part of our education program we welcome people to embed PhD and Master within their research projects and look forward to people doing that. 

It’s a very important part of our capacity building process to increase the research capacity and capabilities of Northern Australian research so after the CRCNA had wrapped up, there is a legacy there of highly skilled researchers who can continue the work.

Q24. Cash is important to the CRCNA. Is there more leniency for a health non-profit organisation?

A24. We are aware of the fact in health projects it’s usually less likely that cash is part of the project or research proposals We’re happy to talk to people about what they can and can’t achieve. We would encourage those NGOs in the health sector to think outside the box about where they might be able to find the cash.  We do accept that in this post-COVID period, cash is going to potentially be harder to find. We can match State and Territory government funding

There may be an opportunity to partner with a philanthropic organisation or group which is interested in improving the health outcomes of rural and remote communities.

Note: As part of the launch of the CRCNA’s health service deliver situational analysis, the project team presented a webinar. Professor Sarah Larkins from JCU mentioned the two Central Queensland-based Centre for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRH) as bringing together researchers, healthcare providers, education and training, and that there are similar programs operating in the NT and in the Kimberley region of WA.

Prof. Larkins said these may be good starting points to identify possible partnerships in the health service delivery sector. However, she wasn’t specifically referring, or inferring, these partnerships were necessarily able to offer cash towards R & D proposals.

Q25. Do industry partners need to be from Northern Australia?

A25. No they can be international partners or from anyway in Australia, but the impact needs to be in the Northern Australia region. Our responsibility is to de-risk the Northern Australian development agenda, so this is where the impact must be.

Q26. If research funding has been granted to an applicant from another funding source, could an applicant leverage this funding and include it in as part of their CRCNA EOI proposal?

A26. It would depend on the source. For example, we can’t match Commonwealth funds.  It would need to be a conversation with the CRCNA’s Project Managers, to understand what could work or be considered as it can be a little complicated.

For example, we can match funding from Research Development Corporations (RDCs) - which are Commonwealth funds – so it can be a little complicated.

Q27. What is the range of grants and is there a preferred grant level?  And is there a preferred project timeline?

A27. The CRCNA is a co-funder of projects, we are not a grant provider. There is no maximum or minimum funding amount we would consider.

We have done small $50,000 investments in projects which are quick and high impact and then we’ve invested up to $1m in some of our projects making it a $4-5 m project overall.

Generally you can get a rough idea of the quantum we have to invest by understanding we have $75 million to invest over 10 years – that’s around $7.5 m a year less operating costs.

In terms of ideal project length, traditionally we’ve not excepted projects thank run longer than 3 years.  If you had something that needed longer than 3 years, we’d say show us what the first 3 years looks like and we can discuss what else is needed as the project progresses.

Q28. Would you be interested in creative approaches to health and co-creation methods through creative practice e.g. mental health prevention through storytelling filmmaking etc – or is your health priority strictly about the clinical?

A28. We’d look at anything which demonstrated how it was going to have an impact and that people were willing to pick it up and trial it. The CRCNA is looking for novel approaches to health, especially in the area of mental health which is a priority for the CRCNA Board.

Q29. Has anyone done research on existing supply chain efficiencies of agricultural industries?

A29. The CRCNA has invested in 3 projects looking at agricultural supply chains;

We are currently developing similar projects to examine NT and WA agricultural supply chains

In addition to these we have also invested in a project with JCU looking at improving Northern Australia supply chains. The discussion paper is available, with the final research report expected to be published in coming weeks).

Our project with Manbulloo Mangoes and T-Provenance is also looking at how blockchain and IoT sensors can enhance and improve supply chain efficiencies.

Q30. Would you consider applications for R & D co-funded by a mining company?

A30. Absolutely, as long focus in agriculture, it could be a very clever way of bringing in cash funds to the project, if the impact is across the industry.  For example, if the project is about one farm, there needs to be an extension element which brings the research to the industry for adoption.

Q31. Does the CRCNA only match cash co-contributions or will it match in-kind co-contributions?

A31. It needs to be a 1:1 contribution. Generally, you’d be aiming for 25% cash and 75% in-kind, as a minimum. That’s not a hard rule but gives you an idea of what some of the more competitive EOIs we get are able to achieve.

Q32. Will a project that looks at the potential for the digitisation of agriculture in the northern region be of interest i.e. the beef industry adopting virtual herding technology?

A32. Yes. This would be something of interest, but the CRCNA would want to ensure we weren’t duplicating previous work undertaken by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). In this instance we’d probably want to see MLA as an industry partner, to ensure the research remains within the beef industry’s strategic priorities.

Q33. What is the average size of the CRCNA’s investment in a project?

A33. We don’t have a maximum or minimum amount which we fund but on average we fund about $4-500,000 with our largest investment to date being around $1 million.

Q34. Is the first submission a short form proposal and the next stage a longer form proposal? And if the second stage is a longer form when would be successful first stage EOIs submissions be likely advised?

A34. The CRCNA will notify successful and unsuccessful EOI applicants by January 2021.

This a short form EOI with the second stage providing an opportunity to flesh out the initial concept.

Ideally the CRCNA likes to start the research activities within three months but this depends on the number of participants and how quickly we can agree to the research plan and get contracts signed.

Project Managers work closely with successful EOIs to support them through this project development and contracting.

Q35. Does the CRCNA offer PhD scholarships as a separate program or do embedded PhDs need to be matched 1:1 within the proposal?

A. If a PhD or Masters student id embedded within the project, then this is considered part of the 1:1 matched funds but we do offer additional scholarships and bursaries outside of projects, as part of our Education Program.

Q36. Must an industry partner capture most players in the field or can be 1 researcher 1 industry partner?  How representative of the “industry” do “industry partners” need to be?  

A36. Every industry is different, so it is important to discuss your EOI with us, so we can get an idea of what your proposal is about.

Generally, we’d be ok with this scenario, provided the research element is relevant and made available to the broader industry through extension, publications or other communications.

Also, if the proposal demonstrates how the research is a priority for the sector – either because it’s been identified in our sector situational analysis work, in the industry’s strategic plan or by engaging the industry body to help disseminate the research at the end of the project. It also would depend on the research focus i.e. how commercial it is vs the industry good, so a proposal like this would need to be considered on its own merits.

Q37. On the aquaculture front, would there be any interest from the CRCNA in developing ‘novel’ crops, like cowpeas, as a potential aquaculture feed ingredient?

A37. Creating a feed base to service a developing Northern Australian aquaculture industry has been identified as a priority to support the industry through its next 10years of significant growth. If the aquaculture sector is saying these are the sorts of crops, they need to support their feeding requirement, then it’s be something we’d be interested in.

Q38. Is Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) considered a Commonwealth funder?

A38. No, as an RDC, HIA would not be considered a Commonwealth funder and therefore the CRCNA would be able to match any co-investment or contribution from HIA as part of a project.

Q39. Would developing the research capacity of clinicians working in Northern Australia fit within the health priority area?

A39. On the face if it yes, but we’d need to know more detail about the project to give clearer response. Please contact your relevant (state-based) Project Manager to discuss.

Although developing research capacity fits within the CRCNA’s remit we don’t fund direct training. We can support training and professional development through our Education Program.

However, if a proposal was about helping the CRCNA to understand the needs and requirements to build capacity and then seek appropriate funding to deliver that, then this could be something we’d be interested in.

The CRCNA is investing in a workforce development project across the Northern Australian agriculture and health sectors.

Q40. Has any work been done on water management in farms or parks based on IoT live data input and AI?

A40. Not directly through this CRC. Our project with Civic Ledger on using blockchain technology and platforms to improve and enhance the water trading market in Mareeba- Dimbulah in FNQ, is probably the closest we’ve got to investing in a project like this.

If this need was identified as a priority within a sector I think as we further develop in NA if we can develop more effective & efficient ways of irrigating agriculture, it would be an important step for the industry.

Q41. Can we use existing funding from the Federal government as the cash contribution from industry?

A41. No. We can use federal money as co-investment to the project not considered matched funds still need other funds & in kind making up the 1:1.

Q42. Has the CRCNA previously explored NT horticultural supply chains as a research priority?

A42. We have made a $1m commitment to do that but we are still developing this project with NT partners.

Q43. Would you consider a project looking into the micro-climate of protected cropping?

A43. Potentially we’d have to look at any proposal in more detail. Protected cropping will play an important role in deliver those high-value crops into growing export markets in the future and the CRCNA is very interested in continuing to invest in this sector.

We currently have a protected cropping project with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Q44. Would the CRCNA be interested in a water management project for agriculture?

A44. Possibly but without more detail hard to say. To discuss the suitability / eligibility of your EOI proposal, please contacted your State/ Territory-based CRCNA Project Manager.

Q45. Does the supply chain work in Queensland cover information on cereals and grains under broadacre cropping?

A45. Yes. Our broadacre cropping situational analysis is now available on our website and provides good details around this topic. 

Q46. Some aboriginal communities have had market gardens. Would this type of project be something the CRCNA would consider?

A46. Yes. It would need to be looking at how may be able to be scaled up to commercial opportunity.

Q47. If a project has already commenced can we apply for CRCNA funding?

A47. On the face of it, if a project has already started it suggests that it doesn’t need funding.

Where we might come in is if the research has identified the need for additional funding to progress to the next stage of research, or if the requested funding is about supporting a second stage of a project. But if a project is funded, we won’t fund it again.

Q48. Can a Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) loan be counted as a cash contribution as it’s a loan to the applicant – not a grant?

A48. We would need to really understand what the research proposal was before we could consider if this is something we could work with. To discuss an EOI proposal please contact your State/ Territory-based CRCNA Project Manager.

Q49. Would the CRCNA consider extension activities such as industry grower tours for peer to peer learning apart of research

A49.  Yes, we do fund RD&E as long as the tour is of relevance to the research project and demonstrates the desired outcomes of the research.

Q50. Do the CRCNA fund R&D projects in Fisheries?

A50. Yes, we would be interested in funding R&D projects in sustainable fisheries if the EOI was competitive and successful.

Q51. Is the CRCNA likely to invest in multiple EOIs in the same identified research priority?

A51. It is unlikely. The CRCNA would prefer to see a combined EOI across jurisdictions or regions working collaboratively within the one industry when possible. If you are aware of others in your industry pulling together a similar EOI it would be advantageous to consider working together to reduce duplication and foster stronger industry cohesion.

Q52. This EOI round is opening and closing so quickly, what if our EOI isn’t ready in time?

A52.Yes, unfortunately due to delays around Covid-19 the CRCNA have been delayed in announcing the 20/21 funding call. We typically aim to announce our funding in May, although this is subject to change. The CRCNA announce funding annually and will do so until FY 2023/24.

Q53. What are the frameworks in place to protect Indigenous/ cultural IP with respect to Traditional Owner-led development?

A53. The CRCNA understands every project is different, so we approach the issue of IP on a case by case basis. If there is existing IP coming into the project, then we would establish this at the start of the project and the owner of that IP would be responsible for maintaining it during and after the project. If IP was being developed as part of the project, then we would expect the development of an appropriate cost-benefit sharing agreement would form part of the project. Our intention would be to maintain IP with the Traditional Owners, as part of the project.

Q54. Can you submit more than one EOI application? And what is the maximum funding you can apply for?

A54.  You can submit multiple EOIs and all project EOIs will be assessed on their individual merit.

If your organisation submits several EOIs they will be competing against each other. You will need to demonstrate why the individual projects should not be combined as the CRCNA often looks to make rival projects collaborate if we identify synergies.

Re maximum amount, there is no minimum or maximum amount the CRCNA will fund.

Q55. Can you apply for Postdoctoral positions?

A55. In addition to this EOI we have an Education Program which includes a range scholarships and stipends. 

Q56. Would the CRCNA consider funding pilot projects that may have regional impact but start with select pilot sites?

A56. Yes, provided the proposal articulates how the pilot project could be scaled up to other sites across Northern Australia. Demonstrating the concept through a pilot is a model we are interested in, but there does need to be strong linkages to the broader Northern Australian context.

Q57. Is there a preference given to northern researchers?

A57. No. Preference given to research delivering against our strategic priorities not necessarily where the researchers undertaking the work are based.  While we do want to build research capacity in Northern Australia, we are more interested in ensuring the impact is in Northern Australia.

Q58. Have you supported any aquaculture projects in the Torres Strait in the past?

A58.  While our aquaculture situational analysis did engage with industry proponents and Traditional Owners in the Torres Strait, we do not have any projects with a specific focus in this region. We would welcome any proposals in this space.

Q59. Can a project use cash from other research projects, like NHMRC or MRFF, as their matched funds?

A59. The CRCNA is funded by the Commonwealth, so we can’t include other Commonwealth funds as part of a project’s 1:1 matched funds.

That’s not to say we don’t encourage, or welcome additional Commonwealth funds being included in the project, but we can’t report it as matched funds. We’d need to see other funds being secured as part of the co-contributions.

We can match Research and Development Corporation funds.

Q60. In measuring impact, is this undertaken across an economic, environmental and social basis? And is there a timeframe this is measured across?

A60. Our strategic objectives to increase GDP in Northern Australia, attract quality investment and capital, improve supply chain efficiencies, generate more jobs and create happy, healthy and highly skilled communities. In terms of the environment, everything needs to be delivered in sustainable manner in terms of development.

When completing your EOI form, you will need to demonstrate how your research proposal meets some or all the CRCNA’s objectives and provide an expected timeframe for when you think this impact will be achieved.

In the longer term, the CRCNA will measure a project’s impact across economic and social indicators though our Impact Tracker which is still under development.

Q61.Is it possible to seek funding to assist with the development of a project proposal with Traditional Owner groups, prior to submitting an EOI?

A61. No. But if you do need support, please contact us to discuss.

Q62. Can the project proposals be at concept-level (Level 1 development)?

A62.Yes. Question 6 on the EOI form is about what stage your development is at, Conceptual, under development or fully developed. This allows CRCNA to see how much further work will be required if the EOI gets accepted before the project will be contract complete and ready to commence.

Q63. How important is it that the forms for Participant acknowledgement of co-contribution are submitted with the EOI application?

A63.The forms help demonstrate that a project has the support of the other participants and is ready to move to full project if successful in the EOI round.

In a competitive process, the CRCNA may look more favourably on projects which have completed these declarations.

Q64. When pulling together our 1:1 for our EOI, does each participant need to match the 1:1?

A64. No, the project participants as a whole need to meet the 1:1, not individual organisations.

Q65. Can you confirm for me that Expressions of Interest are confidential?

A65. You can elect to tick the yes or no box, which gives permission to share your expression of interest application. This is referenced in question 27.

There is also a declaration that requests confirmation to acknowledge that all participants listed in the expression of interest have been consulted.

Q66. Can a university be a lead participant organisation in an EOI?

A66.  Yes, a university can be a lead participant organisation in an EOI.

Q67. I’m preparing an EOI for submission to the CRCNA later this month and would like to be able to access and share the current draft that I have prepared on the CRCNA portal with prospective participating organisations. Could you please advise me how this might be done, if it is possible?

A67. There isn’t a downloadable EOI form, however the form can be started then saved and also shared with others via the URL link.

Please contact the CRCNA Head Office 07 4401 5035 if you need further assistance with the EOI form.

Q68. Is there a way to attach or supply any additional materials, such as letters of support and product collateral, to support the EOI?

A68. No. Please refer to the document in your response to the EOI question. Responses to EOI questions have to stand alone, as this is what the EOI will be assessed on.