Funding avenues

Government funders

Name Description Relevant Grants Timing
Australian Research Council The Australian Research Council (ARC) funds research via two key mechanisms: The Discovery Program and the Linkage Program. The Discovery Program to support fundamental research with a primary focus on supporting individuals or small teams (https://www.arc.gov.au/overview-arc-grant-opportunities/discovery-program-supporting-fundamental-research). This program offers support for individual-led projects and fellowships at different levels, including early career fellowships (DECRA) and Future Fellowships for mid-career researchers.  The Linkage Program supports industry-research collaboration creating links outside universities, with industry and other partners including not-for-profits, between research facilities and across institutes, and stimulating research impact (https://www.arc.gov.au/overview-arc-grant-opportunities/linkage-program-supporting-industry-research-collaboration).
ARC provides grants for research and research training in most fields of research, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics, as well as the humanities, arts and social sciences, but does not support medical research. For current definitions of eligible research see here. Clinical and other medical research is primarily supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (see below).
The ARC no longer publishes Grant Guidelines (formerly known as Funding Rules) on their website. All accountable authorities and officials now use GrantConnect to publish all Grant Opportunities, all Grant Guidelines and all addenda/alterations.
People support:
  • Australian Laureate Fellowships
  • Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
  • Future Fellowship
Project or Infrastructure:
  • Discovery Project
  • Discovery Indigenous
  • Linkage Project
  • Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities
  • ARC Centres of Excellence
  • Industrial Transformation Research Program (including Research Hubs and Training Centres; funding for 2022 including Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals as a priority area)
Annual for People Support schemes, varies for Project or Infrastructure schemes
Australian Government Department of Health The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF; https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/medical-research-future-fund) is a research fund set up by the Australian Government in 2015. In July 2020, it grew to $20 billion. The Government plans funding support according to the MRFF strategy and priorities. An independent committee consults the public every 2 years and advises the Government about which research areas are national priorities. MRFF funding is directed to 4 overall research themes, focused on patients, researchers, research missions and research translation. Current MRFF initiatives can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/medical-research-future-fund/all-mrff-initiatives#current-mrff-initiatives. Among the current initiatives, those that potentially apply to MS research include; the Clinician Researchers initiative, the Emerging Priorities and Consumer-Driven Research initiative, the Frontier Health and Medical Research initiative, and others. The calendar of research grants is updated regularly and is available here: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/medical-research-future-fund/mrff-grant-opportunities-calendar including links to the application portal.
Australian Government Department of Education and Training The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) provides funding for Australia’s research sector via Research Block Grants to eligible Australian higher education providers/Universities for research and research training (https://www.dese.gov.au/research-block-grants). Universities then manage the allocation of research block grant funding to support students, research projects, researchers, equipment and infrastructure. Research Block Grants include funding towards the Research Training Program (RTP; see Relevant Grants) (https://www.dese.gov.au/research-block-grants/research-training-program) and the Research Support Program (RSP) which supports the systemic costs of research not supported directly through competitive and other grants, such as libraries, laboratories, consumables, computing centres and the salaries of support and technical staff (https://www.dese.gov.au/research-block-grants/research-support-program). Research Training Program Scholarships:The Australian Government now funds scholarships for domestic and international students undertaking research doctorate and research master's degrees at eligible Australian universities through the RTP (https://www.dese.gov.au/research-training-program-frequently-asked-questions-students).
The RTP provides scholarships:
  • to research Doctoral degree students for between 3 to 4 years
  • to research Masters students for up to 2 years
  • that can fund a student's tuition fees, general living costs, or be used to support the ancillary costs of a HDR such as thesis publication costs.
Applications for a new RTP stipend, allowance or fees offset need to be made directly to a participating university (https://www.dese.gov.au/research-block-grants/higher-education-providers-eligible-research-block-grants). Universities are responsible for managing the RTP application, selection and offer process. Students need to approach the scholarship office at their chosen university for direction on how to apply for the RTP and key deadline dates.
(From 1 January 2017, the RTP replaced the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), International Postgraduate Research Scholarships and the Research Training Scheme.)
Annual funding rounds
National Health and Medical Research Council NHMRC is a key driver of health and medical research in Australia and have been the largest funder of MS research nationwide. A range of funding support is available from the NHMRC for investigator-led research projects and cross-institutional programs. The NHMRC also funds a range of people support schemes for early career, mid-career, and senior academics. A list of current and upcoming funding schemes with relevant dates can be found here. The funding finder allows searching for funding opportunities according to specific grant type or other criteria.
  • Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants
  • Development Grants
  • Postgraduate Scholarships
  • Ideas Grants
  • Synergy Grants
  • Investigator Grants
  • Partnership Projects
  • Centres of Research Excellence
  • MRFF- various grant opportunities within specific Initiatives/Missions
  • Targeted Calls
  • Collaborative Research Grants with other international bodies (eg European Union, Canadian Institute of Health Research in 2022)
Varies by grant; some are offered in multiple rounds per year, others may be one-off.
State Government Offices for Health and Medical Research The New South Wales Office for Health and Medical Research NSW OHMR is a key supporter of MS research in NSW. The NSW OHMR occasionally funds investigator-led research via an open application process, but primarily provides support for major state-wide initiatives and targeted infrastructure development. The specific funding schemes vary annually depending on the NSW OHMR strategic priorities, but have recently included a 2021 COVID 19 Research Grants, 2021 Biospecimen Collection Grants, 2020 Spinal Cord Injury Research Grants, 2021 Medical Devices Fund (for development and commercialisation of medical devices and related technologies in NSW), 2021 Early-mid Career Fellowships (offered in specific research areas). The NSW OHMR has provided significant support for the MS Clinical Trials and Research Network in NSW, and also supports the MS Research Australia Brain Bank.
In Victoria, the Victorian Department of Health (https://www.health.vic.gov.au/about/medical-research) funds the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), which offers opportunities to partner with VicHealth on Impact Research Grants, ARC Linkage and NHMRC Partnership Grants (https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/funding/research-partnership-grants). VicHealth also offers targeted funding opportunities based on key health priorities. The majority of the Victorian Government medical research activity is now led through the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), including the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund (https://djpr.vic.gov.au/medical-research/funding), which funds projects that require cash co-contributions.
The Queensland Health Innovation, Investment and Research Office HIIRO provides direct funding support for investigator-led research in Queensland. There are a range of people support grant schemes available including Queensland Advancing Clinical Research Fellowships, Nursing and Midwifery Research Fellowships, Junior Doctor Research Fellowships and Physiotherapy Research Fellowships.
The Western Australia Department of Health offers several grant schemes for both people-and project support. This includes Clinician Research Fellowships and New Independent Researcher Infrastructure Support Awards, the Research Translation Projects, as well as Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund. The WA Government also supports the Lotterywest Foundation and the Healthway foundation that each fund competitive grants. Lotterywest grants are awarded to organisations, while Healthway Health Promotion grants are awarded to individuals. In addition, the WA Government manages the Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund, with targeted funding opportunities which in 2021 included “Near-miss” Grants and Fellowships for eligible near-miss applications to the NHMRC Investigator Grants program for Emerging Leadership level 1 and 2.
People Support:
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Awards
Project or Infrastructure
  • Project Grant
  • Pilot Research Grant
  • Commercial Research Funding
Varied
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Government funders