The highlights, deliverables and performance of The Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF).

The Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) is a separately constituted trust under the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926. The Fund invests in science that addresses issues of national priority and contributes to Australia’s sustainable future, including:

  • fundamental research for sustainable resource use, environmental protection and community health
  • tactical research seeking solutions to national challenges
  • collaborative research between organisations working on solutions to national challenges
  • scholarships sustaining young researchers capable of working on national challenges.

Objectives and deliverables

Recognising that science will remain a key driver of Australia’s economic, industrial, environmental and cultural development, the Fund invests in research that will contribute to Australia’s sustainable growth.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall is Trustee, and awards funding to parties across the National Innovation System. The SIEF Advisory Council provides independent advice and recommendations on funding of proposals from across the National Innovation System. CSIRO manages the Fund on behalf of the Trustee.

Some programs operate on a competitive basis, others by invitation on the basis of identified needs. SIEF funds the:

  • Research Project Program (competitive)
  • Research Infrastructure Program
  • Special Research Program
  • Promotion of Science programs – Fellowships and Scholarships (competitive)
  • Joint Chair appointment (CSIRO/Macquarie University)
  • SIEF – AAS Fellowships to the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting – facilitated by the Australian Academy of Science (competitive)
  • SIEF STEM+ Business Fellowships – facilitated by CSIRO.

Program performance

The contribution of research to solving issues of national importance can only be measured long-term, but key performance indicators are chosen for early program stages (see Table 2.15). As the funds available for allocation diminishes and fewer new projects are commenced, some indicators do not change from previous years.

Key performance indicator 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Projects involving research in areas of national priority2 100% Research Projects
76% Promotion of Science
100% Research Projects, Research Infrastructure and Special Research Program
83% Promotion of Science
100% Research Projects, Research Infrastructure and Special Research Program
84% Promotion of Science
100% Research Projects, Research Infrastructure and Special Research Program
84% Promotion of Science
Projects involving more than one organisation3 >85% >90% >92% >92%
Financial contributions of partners Approximately 57% Approximately 69% Approximately 68% Approximately 70%
Publications from SIEF projects4 79 158 226 276
Early Career Researchers funded through SIEF projects5 236 42 1317 241

Proportion of projects involving research in areas of national priority

One of SIEF’s primary purposes is to provide grants in support of research that is of national benefit. All SIEF research programs and most of our fellowships and scholarships are funded on this basis.

Recent grants, under the Research Infrastructure Program, target areas supporting Australian industry and agriculture:

  • The Biomedical Materials Translational Facility (BMTF), based in Clayton, is led by Monash University and CSIRO, with partners MIMR-PHI and ANSTO. This $30+million initiative leverages SIEF funds with at least matching funds from CSIRO and Monash (plus partners), and additional investment from emerging industry partners. The BMTF will be a focal point to draw in, engage and stimulate industry. Within Australia’s medtech sector there are a range of highly innovative companies with high growth potential. The BMTF’s focus on translational biomedical materials research provides these companies with a means to proactively engage earlier in the R&D process.
  • The National Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Precinct (NAESP) is a collaboration between CSIRO and ANU, working with partners and collaborators, to bring transformative changes to the way research and innovation are conducted in the Precinct, by fostering integrative and collaborative work patterns, and by enabling joint access to a suite of facilities. The facilities will also provide a major platform for co-location of external collaborators. SIEF is investing ($18 million) in two key elements of this emerging precinct – The Centre for Genomics, Metabolomics and Bioinformatics and a new life sciences building on the CSIRO Black Mountain campus, to ensure that CSIRO’s laboratories, microscopy and analytical facilities support outstanding research excellence.

Proportion of projects involving more than one organisation

More than 92 per cent of SIEF-supported activities involve more than one organisation, fostering communication, interaction and collaboration. Over 60 organisations are formally involved in one or more SIEF-funded projects, representing national and international research organisations as well as industry and end users. Many more organisations draw on SIEF funded activities, particularly via the Research Infrastructure and Special Research Programs, where development and/or availability of research infrastructure plays an important role in supporting Australian innovation for the future.

Financial contributions of partners

Promotion of Science activities (Scholarships and Fellowships) leverage an average 41.6 per cent co-investment from partner organisations, while Research Projects show an average co-investment rate of over 60 per cent. The Research Infrastructure and Special Research programs have higher co-investment levels (76.8 per cent and 85.7 per cent respectively), indicating the longer term commitment to these activities by the partner organisations.

Number of publications from SIEF projects

Publication numbers continue to increase year on year. However, it should be noted that the recorded publication numbers are likely to under-represent the true level of publications associated with SIEF funding. Publications resulting from grants in the Research Infrastructure and Special Research Programs are not included, and once SIEF funding has ended, it is challenging to capture all subsequent publications.

Early-career researchers funded through SIEF projects

SIEF supports early career researchers in a number of ways, including scholarships and fellowships, project funding and travel support. The number of early career researchers funded through SIEF projects has risen more than tenfold over the past three years.

The John Stocker Postgraduate Scholarship Program and the Honours and Vacation scholarship programs are no longer offering new scholarships, and the John Stocker Postdoctoral Fellowships program was suspended in 2014–15. Hence the increase in number of early-career researchers is mainly attributable to the Research Projects Program and Lindau Fellowships. Again, this number is likely to be an underestimate, as early-career researchers associated with the Research Infrastructure and Special Research Programs are not included.

  1. For all projects awarded as at 30 June 2015.
  2. Data includes Research Projects, Research Infrastructure, Special Research and Promotion of Science programs. Undergraduate degree scholarships are not included: there is no expectation they will address national priorities, collaborate, co-invest or publish.
  3. Cumulative for all projects awarded up to 30 June 2015.
  4. Excludes RI and SPR.
  5. Does not include RI or SRP.
  6. Promotion of Science Program only (including undergraduate scholarships).
  7. Performance indicator expanded in 2013–14 to include Research Projects Program.

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