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Science and Technology Division in Australia visited the Australian Research Council (ARC)
Article Source:STD, MoST (TAIWAN), in AUSTRALIA
Publish Date:2017.04.27

Photo taken at Australian Research Council (ARC): (From left) Dr. Suang-Jing Pong, Mr. Justin Withers and Mr. Kai-Shyr Wang.
On 31 January 2017, Dr. Suang-Jing Pong, Counselor, and Mr. Kai-Shyr Wang, Executive Assistant, of the Science and Technology Division, Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Australia, visited the Australian Research Council (ARC) located in Canberra and were received by Mr. Justin Withers, Director of the Research Policy and Integrity Council at ARC.

Mr. Withers firstly introduced the general status and functioning of the ARC. The ARC is a Commonwealth entity within the Australian Government that advises on Australia’s investment in research and development. The ARC aims at delivering policy and programs that assist in Australia’s research advancement, global innovation, and benefiting the community. To achieve the mission, the ARC supports the highest-quality fundamental and applied research and research training through national competition. It also encourages partnerships between researchers and industry, government, community organizations and the international community. The corporate structure of the ARC contains four higher-education and research sectors, which are (1) Physical Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics and Information Sciences, (2) Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, (3) Social, Behaviaoural and Economic Sciences and (4) Humanities and Creative Arts, each with its own executive director. The Executive Directors at the ARC are drawn from academia to ensure the ARC is supported by strong expertise.

During the presentation, Mr. Withers mentioned the Australian Government has planned a science research budget of $10.1 billion AUD for the period of 2016-2017. ARC is in charge of about $750 million AUD budget, which is only less than the $8.4 billion AUD of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the $790 million AUD of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Between 2013 and 2017, there were about 30 to 40 cases of projects to cooperate with Taiwan per year, with funds of amounts between 8 and 11 million. The ARC administers the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP), which comprises the two funding programs of Discovery and Linkage. The Discovery Program funds high-quality research plans, which helps with research and innovation enhancement, job creation, economic growth, and life quality in Australia. The Linkage Program promotes collaboration with higher education providers, government, and industry and supports international partnerships.

Moreover, the ARC is tasked with utilizing the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) as the framework of national research evaluation. The ERA identifies excellence in national research produced by Australian universities and measures its quality against world standards. The ERA ratings range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest and standing for “outstanding performance well above world standard”, 4 standing for “performance above world standard”, 3 standing for “average performance at world standard”, 2 standing for “performance below world standard”, and 1 being the lowest and standing for “performance well below world standard”. According to the ERA assessment, Australia has at least five universities or more can be included in the highest rating 5 in some fields, including Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, Engineering, Medical and Health Sciences, Psychology and Cognitive Sciences, Law and Legal Studies, and History and Archaeology.

The ARC is an important executive unit of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), which is the most important Project for collaboration between industry, education and research that are being taken by the Australian Government at the moment. In the future, the ARC’s priorities of investment will be soil and water, transport, cybersecurity, energy, resources, advanced manufacturing, environmental change, and health. The Science and Technology Division will be focusing on advancing collaboration between Taiwan and Australia in all the chief areas mentioned above.
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