The CDP is a potentially valuable addition to the Government's existing mechanisms for encouraging collaboration between research institutions and end-users of research. If implemented effectively, it has the potential to allow universities and other research providers to crystallise important collaborations with end-users in the national interest by reducing risk and defraying costs in the early stages.
As it stands, however, the proposed program is limited in scope and administratively burdensome, in a way that will greatly reduce the chances of substantial ongoing collaborations emerging. Effective collaborations often take a number of years and multiple stages of consultation and scoping to come to fruition. There is a risk that limiting the grant to a maximum of $100,000 over one year will deter many potential quality CDP applications from proceeding. Universities Australia recommends that the available grants under the scheme
be set at a maximum of $250,000 over two years.
Universities Australia is also concerned that the draft guidelines indicate that a `majority' of consortium partners, including the lead entity, must be end-users (4.3.2). Such a prescription is again likely to stifle effective collaboration. Taken literally, this would mean that a four member consortium would require three end-users and one university. A consortium involving two universities and a public research institution would in turn have to find four end-users to enter the collaboration, which is unlikely to be realistic.