Up to $1.9M per annum for four years is available to establish a centre of excellence.

Overview

In 2004 the Australian Government announced that it would establish a Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis (centre) to build on and strengthen the integrity of Australia’s biosecurity import risk assessment process. The aim of the centre was to extend Australian expertise in risk analysis techniques and the science underpinning them by creating and testing methods, protocols, analytical tools and procedures to benefit both government and the broader Australian community.

Following a public call for Expressions of Interest to establish and host a centre, the University of Melbourne was selected to host the centre and the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis (ACERA) was established in 2006 under a funding deed with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (the department). The current funding deed with the University of Melbourne expires in June 2013.

The department is establishing a new round of funding from July 2013 for the continuation of the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis. A funding grant of up to $1,972,300 per annum (inclusive of GST) will be provided each year for a period of four years to the successful organisation to operate a centre following a competitive application process.

The centre has gained international recognition and other countries have indicated an interest in participating. Accordingly this new round will accommodate participation beyond Australia and will contribute to closer relations with countries that share similar goals for their biosecurity systems. Details of arrangements with any other country that participates will be negotiated separately between that government and the successful applicant.

Purpose of program

The purpose of the program is to continue to support governments’ advancement of biosecurity risk analysis and management through the provision of expertise in risk analysis techniques and the development of associated methods, protocols, tools and procedures.

The objectives of the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis are to deliver practical, rigorous solutions and advice related to the assessment, management, perception and communication of biosecurity risk. To achieve this, the centre will:

  • research and develop new and existing methods relevant to biosecurity risk;
  • engage the range of disciplinary skills relevant to the analysis of biosecurity risk, to ensure governments remain at the forefront of practical risk assessment;
  • collaborate and engage with end users to improve adoption of methods and increase the impact of research findings;
  • document and communicate research findings to governments and others engaged in biosecurity decision making;
  • work to promote excellence in risk analysis.

The  Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis will build on the founding work of the University of Melbourne and be guided in its operations by the department and any other contributing governments as appropriate. The centre will also be expected to seek other funding and work, consistent with the centre objectives and strategic direction.

How the program will operate

A single competitive call for applications will be used to select one organisation to host a  Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis for four years.

The  Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis will be required to be operational from 1 July 2013, ready to commence a work program to achieve the objectives of the centre as negotiated with the department.

Government grant funding of up to $1,972,300 per annum (inclusive of GST but not including any funding to be contributed by other governments) will be available to the centre, commencing in 2013-14. Funding would be paid in increments to be negotiated with the department and payment would be contingent upon meeting agreed milestones. The centre would be expected to provide in-kind contributions from its own resources for the administrative function and support of the centre and it would also be expected to seek other funding and other work consistent with the centre’s objectives.

The applicant must be a legal entity. It would be expected to enter into a funding deed with the Commonwealth and be legally accountable for the expenditure of the grant and performance of the obligations under the funding deed. Subject to exceptional performance by the centre and to the availability of funding, the department may consider making a recommendation for an extension of the funding deed for an additional period of up to five years beyond June 2017.

It is envisaged that the  Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis would employ a minimum number of ongoing staff, engaging with other providers as necessary to employ the range of skills and sciences relevant to the analysis of biosecurity risk.

The  Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis will be expected to maintain an international standing as a centre of excellence, producing innovative and high quality research, building capacity and interdisciplinary approaches and promulgating excellence in biosecurity risk analysis through communication and dissemination of research findings. The centre will also be expected to effectively engage and collaborate with end users to maximise the investment.

The department will collaborate with the centre on the content of annual work plans and on the development and delivery of individual projects using a Steering Committee and assigning government collaborators to each project. It is expected that appropriate governance structures will be established by the centre to complement these arrangements and to oversee the management of projects and the centre overall.

In the case of co-contributions, the Australian government and any other participating governments will maintain separate governance arrangements with the centre; with provisions to make clear the relationship with participants. An annual planning meeting between participants would provide coordination and collaboration for the centre’s work plan of projects. Joint projects will be encouraged and it is expected the centre will provide the key lead in ensuring consistent reporting and coordination of projects. Assurance of projects will be performed by both governments through their respective steering committees.

Key dates

The following table outlines the anticipated timeline for the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis program.

MilestoneAnticipated Dates
Applications Open18 April 2012
Applicant briefing30 April 2012
Applications Close15 June 2012
Decision24 August 2012
A centre becomes operational1 July 2013
Program Ends(if not extended)30 June 2017

Who is eligible

  Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis applicants must meet each of the following criteria to be eligible for funding:

  • the applicant must be an Australian higher education provider, research provider, corporation, cooperative, or consortium; and hold an ABN and/or ACN;
  • the applicant must be a legal entity, or must consist of organisations that are legal entities;
  • agrees to provide an Intellectual Property licence (as set out in the draft funding deed template provided with these guidelines – see clause 9 below for further information).

 Each of these is essential and an applicant who cannot meet one or more is ineligible.

What qualifies for funding?

 Funding will be made available for the establishment of the  Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis and for the achievement of the objectives of the centre as stated above and in the funding deed, including:

  •  up to 15% of funding per annum may be used to meet the cost of administration, staffing and servicing the work of the centre. This amount is in addition to the required in-kind contribution provided by the centre referred to in clause 3 above; and
  • the balance of the funding to be used for research/project work to fulfil the requirements of annual work plans that would be developed by the centre in conjunction with the department.

How are applications assessed?

Applications will be checked for eligibility, and eligible applications will then be scored against the assessment criteria and ranked against all other eligible applications received. Each assessment criterion will have an equal weighting.

Applications that best align with the assessment criteria at clause 14 will have the greatest likelihood of being funded. Specifically, this will be the extent to which the applicant can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Panel, the capability to establish and host a centre to the standard necessary to meet each of the centre objectives as set