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ARC Linkage Projects

ARC Linkage Projects offer an attractive option for seeking research funding, as they have two application rounds per year and a higher success rate than Discovery Projects or fellowship schemes. But underestimate them at your peril! At the heart of all the best Linkage applications lies a strong and substantive relationship between researchers and research end-users, articulated in the crucial role partner organisations (POs) play in your proposal.

Negotiating the budget contributions required by the ARC from your POs occupies a lot of time and energy for many applicants. While this is undeniably important, assessors are also looking for evidence of project feasibility beyond the budget.

Here's three important ways you can ensure you’re meeting assessor expectations around PO inclusion:

Project governance:

Juggling the contributions and expectations of multiple POs can be tricky, so it’s important to show that there are suitable project management measures in place prior to the start of the project. What structures do you have to ensure everyone has a seat at the table for project decision making? If you include a steering committee, think about its composition: does it include end-users as well as research personnel? Are there representatives from both the research and translation/implementation stages? And what processes will you use for checking in with different organisations for progress updates? If one organisation’s role doesn’t kick in until year 2, how will you make sure they don’t fall off the project radar prior, and are kept well informed on progress? This doesn’t have to involve endless committees or meetings; a strong project communication strategy could be included instead.

Future relationships:

You are asked to detail how the POs will benefit from the project into the future, and whether the partnership has the potential to lead to longer term collaboration. To show the potential longevity of the collaboration, demonstrate how the project will bring stakeholders from your broader organisations together, not just the immediate project personnel. What new avenues of collaboration would successfully completing this project enable? For example, for some projects, this might be by establishing a spin off company for ongoing commercialisation and product development. For others, it may be through establishing an advisory relationship between university researchers and practitioners in community organisations or government departments.

Capacity to implement:

The ARC is keen to support partnerships that will lead to the realisation of benefits from research translation. As such, it’s important to show the likelihood of implementation. Key to this is the ‘capacity and intent’ of the POs. You can show this by describing what the POs plan to do with the outcomes, and what impact this will have more broadly. For instance, if the project expects to produce tools to overcome a current industry challenge, how is the PO positioned to take this up and model the change for others? Mentioning how this lines up with the organisation’s core strategic direction is also a great way to sell the likelihood of successful future implementation of your project’s outcomes.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking assessors are wowed only by significant financial contributions from POs. But we know from talking to many assessors, including those on the College of Experts, that it is the whole package – strong financial and/or in-kind contributions, good governance plans, long term potential, high likelihood of implementation – that actually get Linkages across the line.


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