CRCs – a bridge between industry and universities

August 21, 2019 by Athena Thompson

Previously we spoke about industry led collaboration in an article on Industry Growth Centres, of which there are currently six covering specific industry sectors. There is another option for linking businesses and industry with researchers to facilitate further R&D and commercialisation.

Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) have been around since the 90s and are funded by Government to focus on different sectors of industry such as information and social services, manufacturing, mining and infrastructure, agriculture, environmental services and medical services. They draw in relevant industry partners (private and public enterprises as well as government departments) and researchers (from universities or research organisations) to fund research projects that will enhance outcomes for business and policy.

Waffle aside, the reasons we think a business would go down this path are:

  • Access multiple experts across different universities – knowing a domain-specific researcher is focussed on trying to understand the problem.
  • For the greater good – investing in research with a university expands on the knowledge base on what industry really needs. Connecting blue-sky research with industry specific problems helps educate universities, and its students, as to what industry needs to be more proficient and effective.
  • Access to infrastructure – sophisticated big-dollar equipment is often out-of-reach for standalone businesses. Collaboration with a CRC enables access a research organisation’s infrastructure such as supercomputers, specialised analytical equipment, rapid tooling and more.

There are currently 20 active CRCs with more to be added later this year. A few key CRC of direct relevance to our interests include:

  • SmartSat CRC will develop game changing technologies to bootstrap the space industry and catapult it into the $500B global economy.
  • Innovative Manufacturing CRC focuses on advanced manufacturing technology utilisation and digital and data-driven manufacturing .
  • iMove CRC aims to improve transport systems by addressing road congestion, fuel use, reduce emissions and improve freight coordination etc.
  • Digital Health CRC will transform digital health service delivery, improve health outcomes and reduce waste in the health system. 
  • Future Battery Industries CRC will address industry identified gaps in the battery industry value chain, support battery deployment and optimise the circular economy for battery waste recycling.
  • Applications open now for Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grant

Yet another angle in this programme is the CRC-P grant; which is a short-term matched funding option and is currently open for applications. 

The Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grants gives industry-led collaborations up to $3M to develop important new technologies, products and services. Previous recipients are listed here: CRC Projects round outcomes.

Does CRC play well with R&D Tax?

There is a specific expense category within an R&D Tax Schedule for CRC contributions so their interaction is already hardwired in legislation. There is nothing preventing you from claiming monies spent with a CRC in an R&D Tax claim (on the proviso that activities are eligible R&D).