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March 2023

Note from the SIEF Manager

Dear SIEF supporter,

Welcome to SIEF’s first newsletter for 2023. This edition provides news on a new SIEF Program which is now open – the SIEF National Missions Collaboration Program; and the NSW Generation STEM Community Partnerships Program Showcase events that brought hundreds of secondary school age students face-to-face with industry, community and local council representatives as they showcased their solutions for local real-world problems. A new Experimental Development Program project has recently commenced, and a new round of the Medium Equipment Program will contribute over $10m of cutting-edge scientific equipment to the Australian Innovation System.

I encourage you to apply for the SIEF National Missions Collaboration Program and I look forward to sharing more SIEF news with you in 2023.

Dr Melissa Straffon

SIEF Manager
(03) 9545 7952 or 0408 134 581

SIEF National Missions Collaboration Program

SIEF has established the $13.5 million SIEF National Missions Collaboration Program (SNMCP), supported by a Gift to SIEF from CSIRO, to support Australian-based research teams to undertake science and research activities addressing national priorities and contribute to achieving Australia’s national objectives. Specifically, the SNMCP will support projects that deliver on the objectives of Missions in the CSIRO Missions Program and enable ecosystem wide collaboration.

Australia's participation (via CSIRO) in the Global Centers: Use-Inspired Research Addressing Global Challenges in Climate Change and Clean Energy is the first activity to be supported by the SNMCP.

The SNMCP will contribute $7 million for Australian participation. CSIRO is a Funding Partner Agency in the Global Centers.

The Global Centers program is an ambitious new initiative to fund international, interdisciplinary collaborative research centers that will apply best practices of broadening participation and community engagement to develop use-inspired research on climate change and clean energy. It is a collaborative program between:

  • United States National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
  • The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency.

The NSF Solicitation Document for the Global Centers Program sets out full solicitation requirements and the Global Centers program objectives.

The Global Centres Program is open to all Australian researchers who meet the solicitation requirements. For more information National Science Foundation Global Centers - CSIRO.

Australian-based applicants need to consult the CSIRO Global Centers: Use-Inspired Research Addressing Global Challenges in Climate Change and Clean Energy Program Guidelines for additional requirements specific to Australian-based applicants.

Key dates

  • Solicitation open: US Tuesday 7 February, 2023 (Wednesday 8 February, 2023 AEDT)
  • Solicitation close: US Wednesday 10 May, 2023 (Thursday 11 May, 2023 AEST)

NSW Generation STEM

Generation STEM Showcases 2022

The STEM Community Partnerships Program, part of the Generation STEM initiative supported by a Gift to SIEF from the NSW Government, hosted 10 showcase events across Western Sydney and the Central Coast (NSW) in late 2022. This was an opportunity for Year 9 and 10 students from 51 high schools to present the solutions of their inquiry-based research projects to other students, teachers, parents, council and industry partners. Throughout the year, participating students have been investigating local issues with the support of their teachers and industry mentors. Heat stress, flooding, management of the environment, pollution, transportation and infrastructure problems were some of the local challenges the students sought to address. Showcase attendees included the Australian Defence Force, Bingo Industries, TAFE NSW, Telstra, Stryker and Western Sydney Airport, who engaged with the students and enquired about their projects. This was the first time since 2019 the showcases could go ahead in person.

Experimental Development Program

The SIEF Experimental Development Program, supported by CSIRO's Gifts to SIEF, funds projects to progress technology development to a stage suitable for attracting commercial investment and market uptake. The Trustee recently approved funding for a new project to build and run a pilot plant at BlueScope Steel’s Wollongong site to test in situ CSIRO’s solid oxide electrolyser technology. Hydrogen produced from electrolysis of water has been recognised worldwide as a viable option to produce green hydrogen for decarbonisation of the energy sector. A key barrier to adoption of this technology is cost.

CSIRO's vision is to enable hydrogen generation at scale by commercialising its tubular Solid Oxide Electrolyser (SOE) technology to generate green hydrogen at a lower cost than competitor technologies. This could potentially enable hydrogen production costs below $2/kg for decarbonisation of industrial processes like steelmaking. The collaboration with BlueScope Steel will provide the platform for commercial development in the mid-2020s and growth beyond that.

For more information on the solid oxide electrolyser technology visit the SIEF website.

Medium Equipment Program

Australia is set to benefit from an injection of new equipment into the Australian innovation system from SIEF’s Medium Equipment Program (MEP). MEP (supported by a Gift to SIEF from CSIRO) is designed to address a gap in funding for equipment in the medium range (up to $4m), and aims to enhance capability and capacity and encourage collaboration – national, international and with industry.

Five new equipment systems were approved for funding, including a new isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) for CSIRO Environment’s Global Atmospheric Sampling LABoratory (GASLAB), allowing ultra-high-precision stable isotope analysis of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4). The new IRMS will provide critical information about how the global carbon cycle is altering under climate change and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and be used to improve earth systems models.

In conjunction with the IRMS are two field deployable continuous flow isotope spectrometers that will be used to help discriminate between different sources of CO2 and CH4 emissions at local to regional scales and monitor changes in them. These instruments will assist in quantifying the impact of decarbonisation policies, validating or helping to improve GHG emissions mitigation strategies.

For further information on what has been funded by the Medium Equipment Program visit the SIEF website.