Regional Collaborations Programme COVID-19 Digital Grants


The call for nominations is currently closed

The Regional Collaborations Programme COVID-19 Digital Grants are now closed and not accepting any further applications.


Grants of up to A$10,000 each for early-career and mid-career researchers to increase connectivity and engagement between Australian and Asia–Pacific economies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants support projects that utilise digital methods of collaboration to address shared regional challenges that directly or indirectly relate to the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery. This can include data sharing platform support, open science data formatting costs, online conference/webinar access support, or to research and develop digital tools to respond to regional COVID-19 needs.

Over $250,000 in funding is available for digital grants under the Regional Collaborations Programme COVID-19, with half being made available for early-career researchers and half being made available for mid-career researchers. This funding initiative is part of the Australian Government's Global Innovation Strategy under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Fields of research

Applications are invited from early-career and mid-career researchers in the following fields of research:

  • Agricultural, veterinary and food sciences
  • Biological sciences
  • Biomedical and clinical sciences
  • Built environment and design
  • Chemical sciences
  • Earth sciences
  • Engineering
  • Environmental sciences
  • Health sciences
  • Indigenous studies
  • Information and computing sciences
  • Mathematical sciences
  • Physical sciences
  • Psychology



At the time of submitting the grant application, the applicant must:

  • be an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident, and living in Australia at the time of application
  • be employed by an eligible research organisation (ERO) as defined below
  • be either:
    • an early-career researcher, having received a PhD no more than 10 years* prior to the grant application closing date, or
    • a mid-career researcher, having received a PhD between 10 and 15 years* prior to the grant application closing date.

Career interruptions

The Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Government are committed to ensuring that all researchers can be considered for opportunities, and the Academy collects career interruption information to assess their eligibility. Accordingly, extensions to the post-research doctorate eligibility requirements for early- and mid-career researchers will be provided for qualifying career disruptions.

A career disruption involves prolonged interruption to a researcher’s capacity to conduct full-time equivalent (FTE) high-level research since the award of their first research doctorate, either due to part-time employment or absence (for periods of one month or greater), and/or long-term partial return to work, to accommodate carer’s responsibilities, illness or other interruption.

Where career disruptions are due to primary caring responsibilities for dependent children, exemptions should be applied at up to two years FTE for each dependent child.

An additional six months (pro rata) can be applied following each period of eligible career disruption, with a maximum of six months per year to allow for the time it takes to resume research after a period of extended leave.


Eligible project applications must:

  • be led by an Australian researcher
  • include one or more partners from a regional economy on the Asia–Pacific region list, in addition to Australia as the lead project partner
  • utilise digital resources and tools to work collaboratively to address a regional challenge of significance to Australia, that either directly, or indirectly, contributes to the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery
  • commence activities after grant recipients are announced and conclude by 31 January 2022.

Eligible budget items include:

  • database access/development
  • cloud computing
  • computational infrastructure
  • access to other research infrastructure
  • data collection
  • data preparation
  • developing code
  • remote fieldwork support
  • remote collaborations.

Ineligible budget items include:

  • salaries, staffing and travel-related costs
  • capital expenditure for the purchase of assets
  • institutional overheads and administrative charges
  • costs associated with the internal preparation of finance and audit statements
  • any activities, equipment or supplies that are already being supported through other sources
  • indirect costs of research not listed in eligible expenses
  • insurance costs (project partners must maintain adequate insurance or similar coverage for any liability arising because of their participation in the project)
  • other costs as determined by the Academy as not meeting the program objectives.

Eligible research organisations

The grants are available to Australian researchers from any of the following eligible research organisations (EROs):

  • Australian tertiary education institutions (as per the Higher Education Support Act 2003)
  • Australian cooperative research centres
  • publicly funded research agencies
  • Australian state or territory funded research organisations
  • Australian public research companies
  • Australian private research companies
  • Australian not-for-profit research organisations
  • other Australian incorporated entities.

An ERO must be an organisation that is registered for GST and, if a university, is registered as exempt from income tax. An ERO must not be a non-corporate Commonwealth entity (as defined under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013).

Assessment criteria

Applicants should propose a collaborative research activity developed in consultation with the proposed project partner(s). A letter of support from each partner institution outlining their contribution (cash or in-kind) to the project must be submitted with the application.

Proposals will be assessed on the:

  • scientific merit of the research (including the value of the collaboration)
  • demonstrated achievements of the applicant in the context of their career to date
  • utilising digital resources to work collaboratively with international partner organisations
  • value of the expected outcome of the research project to the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts in Australia and the Asia–Pacific region.

Applications are considered carefully against the selection criteria by a committee of scientists with diverse expertise. Applications will be ranked based on the merit of the proposal and a shortlist will be provided to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources who will make the final decision on awarding digital grants.

Due to the expected volume of applications, the Academy and Department are not able to enter discussion or correspondence regarding the reasons why an application is successful or not.

Intellectual property

Applicants must provide details of intellectual property (IP) issues in their applications. This includes the:

  • use of any IP in their project
  • proposed ownership of IP resulting from the project.

If the application is successful, and it’s likely IP will be produced, grant recipients will need agreements with international partners to manage IP. These agreements will need to meet Australian and partner economy legislation.

When negotiating IP, applicants need to make sure they have:

  • effective protection and fair distribution of any benefits from new IP
  • new IP rights based on relative contributions and interests
  • terms and conditions for commercialisation and other uses of new IP
  • effective protection of pre-existing IP rights.


Successful applicants (funding recipients) will be required to submit a progress report and a final report of their project using reporting templates provided by the Academy. Requests for information on project progress may also be made by the Academy on an ad-hoc basis. Applications, progress reports and completion reports may be provided (in their entirety) to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources by the Academy.

It is a requirement that any scientific or media publications resulting from the project funded by this program mentions the support granted to the project by the Australian Academy of Science and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Notification of outcome

It is expected that the Academy will notify applicants of the outcome in late February 2021.

Disclosure of information for certain purposes

Without limitation, the Academy and the Australian Government may publish the following information for activities supported through the Regional Collaborations Programme on the Academy’s website or the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ website, or in media releases issued by the government:

  • the project title
  • name of successful lead applicant
  • the names of the partner organisations
  • the contact details provided by the recipient organisation
  • a project summary
  • the amount of Australian Government funding awarded
  • the additional contributions from other partners.

Further information

For further information contact:

Grants Administration Officer
International Programs
Australian Academy of Science
GPO Box 783, Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: 02 6201 9412

This programme is supported by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

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