The NHMRC unveiled sweeping changes to its funding grants today which it says will promote creativity and innovation in medical research, while minimising the burden of grant applications.
Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the plan should help to reduce the time researchers spend writing applications, allowing them to spend more time on research.
“Increasing the time that our best and brightest minds can spend developing cures for disease and conducting vital medical research is a worthy goal,” said Ms Robinson.
“We are also pleased to see an emphasis on encouraging big ideas that help push the boundaries of knowledge and save lives,” she said.
Under the changes, there will be limits on the number of grant applications and a new “Ideas” grant category will be available to all researchers, including those at the early stages of their careers.
The announcement follows the NHMRC’s Structural Review of its grant program. As part of the consultation, Universities Australia called for a more flexible and less complex funding system.
Ms Robinson said the changes announced today were a significant overhaul of how the NHMRC allocates its $800 million annual budget for health and medical research on which many university research programs rely.
“In such a substantial revamp, it will be crucial to examine the detail of the changes to ensure there are no unintended consequences and the transition to the new system is as smooth as possible,” Ms Robinson said.
“We look forward to working with the NHMRC on these important details,” she said.
Transitional arrangements will begin in 2018 and grants that are currently held by researchers at the time of implementation will be continued under their existing arrangements.
Further detail on the announcement is available here: www.nhmrc.gov.au/restructure