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A Stream-lined approach

Under the MNF 2030 strategy, the Marine National Facility (MNF) has introduced five access Streams that more explicitly accommodate and support diverse needs and demand:

  • Stream 1: Policy-driven research
  • Stream 2: Discipline-driven research
  • Stream 3: Strategic partnerships
  • Stream 4: Technology and innovation
  • Stream 5: User-funded research

Researchers applying for sea time on research vessel (RV) Investigator must select the access Stream that best applies to their project. A project cannot be submitted to more than one Stream. Applicants who believe their project could fit under more than one Stream will need to select the most appropriate Stream, taking into account the Stream objectives and definitions. The Stream objectives and definitions are described below and in the MFP (previously MAPS) portal.

VIDEO: Taking your science 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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All applications for sea time, regardless of Stream, are assessed against the same merit principles and merit criteria. For more detailed information about Streams, applicants should read the MNF Operations Rolling Plan.

Stream 1 policy-driven priorities are detailed in the MNF Operations Rolling Plan, released annually when the call is made for applications to build the Primary voyage schedule.

Stream 1: Policy-driven research

Stream 1 has been introduced to deliver impact against specific contemporary national priorities and address critical policy needs for Australia. These are identified by MNF in consultation with end users such as government agencies with relevant policy, regulatory or programmatic responsibilities and peak marine industry bodies.

Stream 1 is for research projects that:

  1. directly address end-user identified priorities stated for each allocation cycle in the annual MNF Operations Rolling Plan
  2. have demonstrably credible prospects of delivering benefits to nominated end-users.

Successful projects in this Stream will:

  1. directly inform and influence critical public policies and programs
  2. demonstrate co-design with end-users to develop a project that will delivery against their needs and will fill gaps in the knowledge base relevant to those needs.

Stream 2: Discipline-driven research

Stream 2 maintains access for discipline-driven projects focused on key knowledge gaps of national interest, and more explicitly caters for both fundamental and frontier research.

Stream 2 is for the advancement of scientific knowledge and promotion of Australia’s science excellence through projects that address important disciplinary, or multi-disciplinary, research questions of national or international standing that do not directly address priorities specified in other Streams.

Stream 3: Strategic partnerships

Stream 3 provides an efficient pathway to accessing regular sea time for established nationally funded research programs. Strategic partnerships facilitate alignment of national priorities and nationally supported activities and, where appropriate, streamline assessment and scheduling of multiple projects within multiyear national programs.

Stream 3 was created to support publicly funded national programs that rely on regular and repeated access to MNF capabilities to support data and sample collection and for which deployment of a national research facility is appropriate.

Stream 4: Technology and innovation

Stream 4 recognises the need to more explicitly encourage access for technology projects that will deliver benefit to future research capability, marine industries innovation and the national interest

Stream 4 was created to promote development and innovation in marine research and industry technology to advance Australia’s capability or capacity for research and understanding of its marine environment, atmosphere, or the Earth System, and may include societal dimensions.

Stream 5: User-funded research

Stream 5 applies to user-funded applicants to support industry and other entities that require MNF capabilities and that deliver data and research of national interest.

Stream 5 projects will be funded by the applicant, or supporting end-users, and will be considered for MNF support where it is demonstrated that the proposed work relies on specific capabilities of the MNF that are not reasonably available otherwise in Australia.

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