The government made little fuss the other day in announcing a big bucket of money for NCRIS, (scroll down for which facility got what).
This seems strange. Industry and Science Minister Husic’s is blessed with competent media minions but in this case there was an announcement including examples of more lay-comprehensible research, but little fanfare. Mr Husic added, “scientists and researchers making new discoveries can help manufacturers make new products, right here in Australia.” Which does not seem many bangs for 650 million bucks.
Perhaps the problem is that NCRIS is an obscure acronym – even when spelt out, it may not be entirely obvious to taxpayers en masse what the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy is about. Even when explained slowly, Future Campus still struggles with what they get up to at the National Fabrication Facility and National Imaging Facility.
This could be a problem if there was ever a Minister looking for savings in programs that few would miss. As Chris Pyne was in 2015 when he suggested NCRIS facilities might need to be sacrificed to the need for savings if his deregulation plan did not get up, (it didn’t, they weren’t).
The NCRIS community knows that obscurity is not their friend. Back in 2015 NCRIS facility representatives appeared at a Senate Education References Committee inquiry, which just happened to coincide with Mr Pyne’s warnings, to explain what a splendid job their kit did.
And last year a consultant report for NCRIS facilities talked-up the program’s economic benefits, but warned, “the impact of NCRIS is clear, however the program itself is not often centre stage. It is time to shine a light on NCRIS.”
If this has happened, Future Campus must have been momentarily distracted.
NCRIS Project Lead Organisation* Funding Round
Astronomy Australia Astronomy Australia $12.75m
Atlas of Living Australia CSIRO $3.545m
AuScope AuScope Ltd $45.013m
Australian Access Federation Australian Access Federation $2.940m
Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness CSIRO $4m
Australian Earth-System Simulator ANU $9.642m
Australian National Fabrication Facility National Fabrication Facility $47.352m
Australian Plant Phenomics Facility Uni Adelaide $37.321m
Australian Research Data Commons ARDC $46.494m
Aus Urban Research Infrastructure Network Uni Melbourne $12.325m
Bioplatforms Australia Bioplatforms Australia $113m
Heavy Ion Accelerators ANU $13.489m
Integrated Marine Observing System Uni Tasmania $63.515m
Marine National Facility CSIRO $59.3m
Microscopy Australia Uni Sydney $12m
National Deuteration Facility ANSTO $2.725m
National Imaging Facility Uni Queensland $28.398m
National Sea Simulator Aus Institute of Marine Science $15.072m
Nuclear Science Facilities ANSTO $10.654m
Pawsey Supercomputing Centre CSIRO $5m
Phenomics Australia ANU $15.878m
Population Health Research Network UWA $10.236m
Southern Coastal Research Vessel Fleet South Australian R&D Institute $19m
Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network Uni Queensland $28.999m
Therapeutic Innovation Australia Therapeutic Innov Australia $31,310m
Total Funding for the 2023 NCRIS Funding Round $650,000,000