NCRIS needs explaining

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



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