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Application calls

Researchers can access fully funded grants of sea time on RV Investigator via three pathways: Primary, Supplementary and Piggyback Applications.

The MNF awards fully-funded grants of sea time for research on research vessel (RV) Investigator through a competitive application process assessed by independent committees. Applications are invited in an annual application cycle that begins with a call for Primary applications to build the Primary Voyage Schedule, usually two years in advance of the available period.

Following announcement of successful applicants through the Primary Application process, opportunities to fill any unused capacity in the Primary Voyage Schedule are then invited through a call for Supplementary applications and an expression of interest (EOI) process for Piggyback projects. All applications for sea time are submitted through our online application portal MFP (previously MAPS).

Grants of sea time are funded by the Australian Government and administered through the Granted Voyage Program.

Types of application

Primary Applications

A Primary Application call is used to build the Primary Voyage Schedule for each financial year. This is an annual call made two years in advance of the start of the available period.

Supplementary Applications

A Supplementary Application call is used to fill unused capacity in the Primary Voyage Schedule. This is an annual call made approximately one year in advance of the start of the available period.

Piggyback Applications

Piggyback Applications are used to fill any remaining capacity in the Voyage Schedule or where projects of national benefit, that require little or no additional resourcing, can be incorporated.

Streams of access to sea time

Under MNF 2030, five Streams have been introduced to access sea time on RV Investigator. These Streams support both the diverse needs of our research community and our national priorities for research.

Watch this video to discover how these Streams can take your research out to sea.

Australia has a vast and valuable marine estate rich in diversity and resources. But we still know very little about it. The Marine National Facility provides Australia with a world-class resource to enable marine research for national benefit. So how can you get your research on board?

Let’s look at the application process and follow the streams that can take your science out to sea.

Each year, fully funded grants of sea time are offered on Australia’s ocean research vessel Investigator via a competitive application process.

Applications can be made by researchers employed by Australian research organisations. Collaborators from overseas research organisations can also be included.

Applying for sea time is easy via our online Marine Application and Planning System – MAPS – accessed via our website. Create your MAPS account to: enter, save, review and submit applications, and plan your voyage, if awarded sea time.

To apply, you will need to pick one of five streams of access. These streams ensure that we deliver a broad range of research to meet the needs of our users and for the greatest national benefit. Let’s dive into each stream.

Stream 1 is for policy-driven research, projects that address national research priorities, which will be set every three years in consultation with relevant government agencies and end-users. Research priorities are listed in the MNF Operations Rolling Plan, released annually when the application call is made.

Stream 2 is for discipline-driven research including fundamental and frontier research. This stream is for projects that advance scientific knowledge without directly addressing policy-driven priorities from Stream 1.

Stream 3 is for strategic partnerships. This stream supports nationally funded research programs that need regular and repeated access to our capabilities to collect long time-series data and samples.

Stream 4 is for technology and innovation projects. This stream supports the development of innnovative technologies that seek to advance our national research capability and our marine industries.

Stream 5 is for user-funded projects. This stream provides access to our capabilities for industry and other groups to conduct research of national benefit.

Revenue from user-funded projects is reinvested back into the Marine National Facility for the benefit of all its users.  

Regardless of stream, all applications are assessed against two merit principles: Research Quality and Research Benefit.

This assessment is made by two independent commitees: the Research Advisory Committee and the National Benefit Advisory Committee, with help from expert external assessors. Applications are scored and used to build a Primary Voyage Schedule,  which is reviewed by our Steering Committee. Successful applicants will then be offered a grant of sea time.

Every step of the way, from application to voyage, the Marine National Facility is here to help. Contact us to discuss how to get your science out to sea.

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