UQ's new Laureate Fellows - Professor Alan Rowan, left, and Professor Paul Burn
UQ's new Laureate Fellows - Professor Alan Rowan, left, and Professor Paul Burn
6 May 2016

The University of Queensland has received $24.5 million in the competitive Australian Research Council grants announced in Canberra today, securing a greater share of the pool than any other university.

The amount UQ received was more than all grants in Western Australia, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory combined.

UQ had exceptional results in the Industrial Transformation Research Programme, where it led the nation with funding to establish two research hubs and a training centre for a total of $8.7 million.

In the Linkage Projects scheme, UQ will receive $9.9 million for 29 research projects – the second highest number awarded to any university.

UQ has two new ARC Australian Laureate Fellowships, placing UQ second nationally in this scheme.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the results were a fantastic acknowledgement that UQ’s research directions were strategic and highly valuable to industry.

“UQ received $18.6 million in the industry schemes in this funding round, ranking number one nationally,” he said.

“To be successful in these schemes, researchers need binding commitments from industry to match or exceed the ARC funding.

“Asking industry to put its money on the line gives UQ and the ARC iron-clad reassurance that any research project is industry relevant and economically valuable.”

Professor Høj – a former ARC chief executive officer – said UQ had led Queensland to a very strong outcome in the $163 million funding round.

“Five Laureates were awarded across UQ, Griffith and QUT from 16 nationally, and QUT picked up an Industrial Transformation Research Project,” he said.

“Only five Industrial Transformation hubs and six training centres were announced nationally, and UQ was the only university to be awarded two hubs and a centre, so we really are a dominant presence nationally in these outcomes.

“Collaboration between researchers and business is essential if we are to translate world-class research into achievable, practical solutions that benefit industry, society and the environment, taking excellence to excellence-plus.

“UQ’s continued success in the Linkage Projects scheme is evidence of our considerable contribution to the national innovation effort and supports our strategic goal of doubling our current $100 million a year income from industry over seven years.

“In this endeavour we have been greatly assisted by the Advance Queensland initiative in which we recently attracted 19 Fellowships in association with industry.”

Professor Høj congratulated all the researchers who were successful in the ARC funding round.

“I know from long experience that ARC schemes are extremely competitive,” he said.

“The quality of any project that successfully draws ARC and industry funding is exceptionally high. Many worthy projects go unfunded, indicating that the successful ones really are the crème de la crème.

“I’m thrilled that UQ’s success rate in the Linkage Projects scheme is around 42 per cent.”

 UQ’s largest Linkage Project – worth $600,000 – is led by Professor Mike Gidley in partnership with Arcadia Biosciences Inc and Ardent Mills.

The project aims to design comprehensive specifications for nutritionally enhanced and health-modulating starch in grain-based foods.

UQ’s Laureate Fellowships were awarded to leading biomaterials researcher Professor Alan Rowan, and to Professor Paul Burn, whose work is shaping global efforts in organic light-emitting technology.

Professor Rowan moved from the Netherlands in January to became director of UQ’s Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. His research into the mechanical and chemical properties of cells is expected to have applications in biomimetic materials such as biogels.

Professor Burn is director of UQ’s Centre for Organic Photonics and Electronics, and his research is in the science of ultrathin lighting technologies.

Professor Høj said Professor Rowan’s work was critical for understanding biological processes within cells.

“Alan’s research pushes the boundaries of materials development in the biological and life sciences, and aims to generate a whole new class of smart, responsive, high-performance biomaterials that have powerful application potential,” he said.

Professor Burn’s work in organic light-emitting diodes is expected to significantly reduce electricity consumption, carbon dioxide emissions and living costs.

“The new ultrathin, inexpensive lighting Paul is developing is likely to change the way we live,” Professor Høj said.

“In developing countries, it will allow kerosene lamps to be replaced with large-area panels, improving safety and quality of life for remote communities.

“The innovative semiconductor materials and diode architectures he is working on will optimise each step in light generation, from charge injection, transport and capture, to light emission.”

UQ’s new ARC Training Centre for Biopharmaceutical Innovation received $4.3 million in ARC funding.

The centre aims to transform Australia’s growing biopharmaceutical industry, and advanced manufacturing capability, by training specialist biotechnologists and bioengineers.

UQ researchers who backed the application were: Associate Professor Stephen Mahler; Professor Kirill Alexandrov; Professor Ross Barnard; Dr Mathias Francois; Professor Peter Gray; Dr Mark Hodson; Dr Jeff Hou; Dr Christopher Howard; Dr Martina Jones; Associate Professor Linda Lua; Mr Geoffrey Osborne; Dr Benjamin Schulz; Professor Paul Young; Dr Arna Andrews; Mr James Bingham; Mr David Crowley; Dr Melinda Dean; Adjunct Professor Robert Flower; Dr David Glover; Adjunct Professor David Irving; Dr Yih Yean Lee; Dr Ian Nisbet; Professor Lars Nielsen; Dr Timothy O'Meara; Dr Catherine Owczarek; Dr Con Panousis; Dr Vanessa Sandford; Dr Evan Shave; Dr John-Paul Tung and Dr Michael Wilson.

The industry partners are: CSL Limited, GE Healthcare, Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Patheon Biologics Australia Pty Ltd.

UQ’s new ARC Research Hub for Advanced Manufacturing of Personalised Medical Devices received $2.79 million in ARC funding.

The project aims to transform Australia’s $10.8 billion medical technology sector by developing cost-competitive technologies for the rapid production of personalised devices for Endovascular Aneurysm Repair.

UQ researchers who backed the application were: Associate Professor Matthew Dargusch; Professor David StJohn; Dr Samih Nabulsi; Professor Mark Easton; Professor Julie Cairney; Mr John Croft; Associate Professor Martin Veidt; Dr Michael Bermingham; Dr Damon Kent; Professor Michael Smart; Mr Gilbert Erskine; Dr Stuart McDonald; Mr Steven Bryant and Mr Norman Tucker.

The industry partners are: Cook Medical Australia Pty Ltd; Robert Bosch (Australia) Pty Ltd; Advanced Material Solutions Pty Ltd; Heat Treatment (Qld) Pty Ltd; QMI Solutions Limited.

UQ’s new ARC Research Hub for Advanced Solutions to Transform Tall Timber Buildings aims to develop skills, knowledge and resources for new tall timber building designs incorporating architectural, engineering and sustainability drivers while meeting regulatory constraints.

The project aims to develop innovative engineering solutions that address crucial barriers to the use of structural timber in the fast-growing and extensive medium-rise tall buildings market where timber is, on many counts, the ideal construction material.

UQ researchers who backed the application were: Professor Jose Torero Cullen; Associate Professor Jennifer Loy; Assistant Professor Thomas Tannert; Dr Anthony Abu; Dr Cristian Maluk; Dr Angus Law; Dr Paola Leardini; Dr Shanmuganathan Gunalan; Dr Minghao Li; Dr Henri Bailleres; Mr Geoffrey Stringer; Dr Craig Gibbons; Mr Matthew Linegar; Mr Douglas Gaunt; Mr Steven McKee and Mr Till Soerensen.

The industry partners are: University of Canterbury (Christchurch), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hyne & Son Pty Ltd, ARUP Pty Ltd, Lend Lease Development Pty Ltd, Scion New Zealand Crown Research Institute, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and Fitzpatrick & Partners Pty Ltd.

Media: Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications, communications@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 7086.