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We held an information session to present an overview of the fund and application criteria.
Hello and welcome to everyone online. Thank you for joining today's information session for the Research and Development Fund – Materials. For those of you who I haven't met before, my name is Jean Young and I am the Research and Development Program Lead here at Sustainability Victoria and am leading the delivery of this fund.
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional owners of the many lands upon which we're meeting today. I am located in the lands of the Kulin Nations and I acknowledge that we live and work on the lands of the world's oldest and most sustainable culture, and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
Today's session includes an overview of Recycling Victoria policy and its programs; obviously an overview of the R&D fund; you'll hear from a previous industry partner, Dr. John Stehle; and I'll cover off on some commonly asked questions that we've already received through other grant inquiries.
And then, finally, we'll have some time to answer any questions you have about the fund and the application process that may not have already been covered. So, you can ask questions throughout the session via the chat box function and that's located at the right-hand side of your screen where it says, "Q&A."
These will be moderated by SV staff, so you may receive a direct written response or we'll respond to these questions at the end of the presentations. And those online can put a like on a particular question if you would really want that one to be answered.
We'll respond to application process or fund questions only. If you have any project-specific questions, these can be emailed to our grant enquiries email. We do have an information bulletin that will be updated with any answered, then any unanswered questions, if we don't get time to all the questions asked. And we'll send this link out to all attendees early next week. Also, today's session will be recorded and we'll make it available for publishing on our website.
To kick things off, I'd like to introduce Emily Byrne. Emily is the Manager of Programs in the Waste and Recycling Division at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. Emily will provide an overview of the RV policy and its programs. So thanks, Emily.
Thank you, Jean. Thanks and welcome, everyone, to this session. Thank you for coming along. I'm just going to provide a quick overview to help you locate where this grant is at and how the Victorian Government sees this overall policy, which might, you never know, help you in writing a grant application for it.
Recycling Victoria is a 10-year, $380 million action plan and investment to transform Victoria's recycling sector, generate jobs and create a new economy and drive investment and innovation to reduce waste. It's really important to know from the Government's perspectives, this isn't just about recycling and not just about waste, it's a really circular economy action plan and policy.
What I mean by circular economy is an economy that uses resources at the highest value use, so you'd continually directing resources towards where they can be of highest value. That includes recycling but it also includes designing out waste in the first place, creating new relationships to use by-products of one sectors as inputs in another sector and also radically changing out materials efficiency across Victoria.
And in simple terms, that just means getting the most bang for our buck in raw materials. And definitely that's what this program's trying to do, is to encourage that innovation to change the way we use materials to drive towards a more circular economy. That's what the overall policy's doing and this is what is part of it is, too. Next slide, please, Jean.
Great. And so, Recycling Victoria has some ambitious targets. It's got some goals as well, so it's a really all-encompassing policy. You design things to last, repair, and recycle them. You use products effectively to create more value, recycle more resources, and you reduce harm from waste. So, all those kind of policy leans are part of Recycling Victoria and are important parts of the overall package and things that the whole Victorian Government is driving towards. Next slide, please, Jean. The link towards Recycling Victoria, if you want to read the whole policy, is on the bottom of that slide and also through the SV website, too.
The ambitious targets in Recycling Victoria are, number 1, we're going to divert 80% of waste away from landfill by 2032; 2, we're going to cut total waste generation by 15% per person by 2030; 3, we're going to halve the volume of organic materials going to landfill between 2020 and 2030; and then 4, we're going to make sure that every Victorian household has access to food and organic waste recycling services, all local composting by 2030.
And you might think, "Oh, these are just abstract policy goals, what do they have to do with me?". Although I'm not on the grants panel, so not a conflict of interest here, but guarantee you that, if you write your grant to show how your activities work towards one of those targets, then that will be a good thing. Do that.
And those are the overall targets that Recycling Victoria is working towards. They're really ambitious, they do aim to transform Victoria's economy over the next 10 years. Next slide, please, Jean.
There's some key programs in Recycling Victoria. We're going to invest more than 100 million dollars to help Victorian businesses give new life to old rubbish. We're going to invest more than $14.6 million to support councils and communities to help them reduce waste. We're going to spend $129 million to reform kerbside recycling and introduce a new Container Deposit Scheme. You might have heard about that in the news. And we're also investing a lot to tackle waste crime and keep Victorians safe as well.
You see that the top limb of that is circled and that's because the program we're talking about today comes within that key program. It's about a business-focused program focused on innovation, focused on investment, focused on growth and jobs and creating those new market opportunities in Victoria. Next slide, please, Jean.
Great. And finally, for my bit, I'm just going to talk you through some of the other things in Recycling Victoria just so you know what's out there. Even if these aren't immediately relevant for you or your organization or you personally today, it's useful for you to know that they're around. Overall, there's more than $100 million to enable better processing and recycling materials, improve recycling infrastructure and get more value from waste. So, that's a lot of different programs that are already out there now and are coming out over the next few years.
There's also $10 million invested by Victorian Government for Waste to Energy initiatives and another $11.5 million towards treating hazardous wastes. So, if you've got a proposal or an idea that fits within either of those kind of streams, then you should know that there's other programs and other sources of funding that might be available.
Thirdly, there's a new $7 million Circular Economy Business Innovation Center called CEBIC. That's designed to bring industry, universities and local governments together to develop new technologies and collaborate on creative solutions. It will also have a $10 million business grants program.
If that sounds kind of like this program, that's deliberate. We're aiming for the 2 to link together where their really early stage innovation, the research, the early field trials and concept testing is picked up by the Business Innovation Center and then it feeds in the bigger slice of funding into the Recycling Markets Acceleration program, which is what this grant that we're talking about right now fits under. So, that's that final thing on the side there. There's a $30 million Recycling Markets Acceleration Program or package to make Victoria a leader in recycling innovation.
So, to step you through what that program involves, I'm going to pass you over to the wonderful Shannon Smyth, who's a manager in Sustainability Victoria looking after that RMAP: Recycling Markets Acceleration Program. Over to you, Shannon.
Thanks, very much, Emily for the introduction and then also for that fantastic overview of the Recycling Victoria policy. As Emily's already done, my name is name Shannon and I'm a manager at Sustainability Victoria responsible for managing implementation of the Markets Acceleration Program.
And my job here today is to give you a bit of information in relation to the broader Recycling Markets Acceleration Program that's being delivered as part of the Recycling Victoria policy package. Also provide a little bit more detail in terms of the program offer that'll be available to industry, not only through the R&D program that we're here to talk about today, but also some of those additional program interventions and activities to come.
But just firstly I just want to provide a bit of a high level overview of RMAP itself and I'll refer to it as RMAP because who doesn't love a groovy acronym? The RMAP program is a $30 million investment by government as part of the Recycling Victoria policy to drive demand for recycled materials across the economy.
Essentially, we want to take those waste products that are currently not being utilised and not being utilised in their highest value form and transform those into readily wanted and accessible products that can be utilised in a range of different applications right across the economy. There's a couple of things driving that, not only a strong policy position from the Victorian Government, but also some other external policy changes, like the COAG export ban that we'll touch on a little bit later.
Essentially, this program aims to drive the demand for those materials by supporting a couple of key activities. One of those is to support development of new innovative products, which brings us here and then to our discussion today, but also to work in terms of building market confidence in relation to both the use and the availability of recycled products and materials. In partnership with one of our program delivery partners also look at reducing our necessarily regulatory burdens or barriers that prevent the use of recycled materials, or perhaps to make it easier to do so. And also, in helping to communicate and provide regulatory certainty that aims to support and stimulate innovation as well.
As I mentioned, the Recycling Markets Acceleration Program is a co-delivered program out of the Recycling Victoria policy and it's being jointly delivered by DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning), Environment Protection Authority and us at SV. To support an improved coordinated delivery of this program, there is a program sort of working group that's been established to support that, and I'll provide a bit more data on that in the next slide, Jean.
So, essentially, the program of work is being split into 3 distinct streams based on the portfolio partners roles and responsibilities either under their act or their legislative responsibilities. SV plays a strong role in leading delivery of programs including programs like this grant programs, but also research and other investment intervention activity to help with the implantation of the policy goals relevant to this program of work.
EPA's role is to really look at those regulatory barriers and the current regulatory, I guess, requirement and climate to identify where there are potentially barriers that are stifling or perhaps impacting on the ability to innovate and see the introduction for these recycled products. I should say, when I talk recycled products, I'm not just talking about plastics and glass, I'm also talking about organics, as well, under this program of work.
DELWP's role is policy lead and coordination. It really is around helping to provide policy certainty that allows for innovation, encourages innovation, but also identifies with, I guess, department right across Victorian Government where there's opportunities for some of our program approach and our findings and outcomes to be incorporated into those programs of work as well.
And, as I mentioned before, there is a markets program working group that's been established to help coordinate the strategic delivery of this program to ensure that we are picking up on not only emerging claims or issues, but also those opportunities that present with any transformational pace like this policy intends to deliver, as well. It's really important for coordination and consistency in our delivery, too, that this working group also reports back to a more centralised RV policy sort of overview, oversight group as well to ensure that we're all singing off the same song sheet, as they say. Next slide. Thanks, Jean.
So, in terms of a more focused sort of overview of SV's role in delivery of the recycled market's acceleration program, we are leading to deliver what we call the Markets Acceleration Program, which is nicely called MAP for short and this program of work really, as I mentioned, aims to be the delivery arm of this policy commitment. It aims to really work closely with industry to facilitate activity on the ground to support and, again, really help to sort of illicit investment and activity by industry and by research associations and other stakeholders to help deliver on some of those requirements and objectives including the policy itself.
So, our program of work will really focus on a couple of key areas. I should say that there is a range of flexibility in our program approach because, as we know in the market space, things will need to adapt and evolve as our program and the broader RV policy rolls out, and we'll need to re-pitch our offer to market to ensure that it remains relevant and consistent with what industry need, in a market development sense over the course of the next four years of delivery.
But at the moment, our focus really is on a couple of key areas. Key is identifying new domestic uses for recycled materials. This nifty little diagram or infographic perhaps you see on the right of your screen ... Left, right? It's always hard when you're looking at a screen facing at you, really is one of the key drivers for our activity currently in terms of prioritising where our investment needs to be focused.
For those not familiar with this, this is actually a timeline for the COAG export ban of essentially the banning of waste exports outside of Australia. This was agreed to by all states and territories in 2019, I believe it was November 2019, and also supported by local government associations as well. This really for us is the clear signal that we need in terms of how we respond and how we go about prioritising development of new end markets for products that were traditionally exported for further processing or further value add or beneficiation processes. And really drive our prioritization investment to ensure that we have domestic opportunity for those products. And when I say, "domestic," obviously we're supporting establishment of new opportunities in Victoria, but also noting that these products do move, as any product does, across the economy nationally as well.
So, one of our key focus is on identifying those domestic new opportunities and we'll do that with programs such as the R&D program that we're here to talk about today by providing support to industry and universities, and I should also say industry bodies associations and the like, to test and to develop new products.
We'll also be providing support to work with industry to give them the ability and the capacity and capability to increase its supply capability. I mean that not only in terms of a product volume sense but also ensuring that those products are developed and produced in a way that they may end user requirements or specifications.
One of the things that we're really keen to sort of pitch in our R&D and our recycled materials area is that we certainly don't anticipate that industry will accept products that do not demonstrate the same level of compliance or go above that level of compliance in their application when considering the use of recycled materials and that's something we've proscribed to in our program of work as well.
We also want to, I guess, improve industry's ability to access these products as well. When I say industry, I'm talking about construction, about remanufacturing industry's ability to access these materials. And we'll do that by providing support in a more sort of traditional comms and communication sense by promoting and identifying via case studies and via things like a Buy Recycled directory, the opportunity to exist in the products that are readily available for use in a range of products or manufacturing applications.
We'll also be supporting, in partnership with EPA and DELWP, that balance of regulatory and approval environment that we need to ensure that these products are obviously then developed in a way that doesn't cause any impact to environmental or human health as well.
This whole program of work is underpinned by a detailed research program as well. This aims to be a forward-facing horizon scan piece that really aims to look at where markets are moving towards and aims to, I guess, as much as is possible in a live policy climate, identify where emerging issues be those policy, be those logistics, in relation to export requirements and the like, where those areas may be emerging that could impact on our current management of waste streams and respond in a proactive manner so that we're not having to address legacy issues as a result of inactivity, and that's one of the key areas of focus for the team at the moment is looking at the current research, the current data and really taking detailed, thorough analysis, but also consultation with industry to help really direct our program of work over the course of the next 3 years. Let's jump to the next slide. Thanks, Jean.
Finally, the program itself is split into a couple of distinct streams. I touched on the broad level around where we'll focus our activity on the previous slide but this gives a little bit more detailed rundown around how the Market Acceleration Package is split into some defined areas to ensure that we have coverage across the range of RV priorities that we aim to interact with and deliver on.
The program itself is split into the 3 streams that are data here on the screen. First one being the materials stream, which is where the R&D program we're here to talk about today is funded and delivered from. Again, this stream aims to direct initially with the current COAG export banned items. As flagged previously, that is open to change over the course of the delivery of this program, as we go on to take further analysis and data modeling, we'll say how much effort needs to be placed against those COAG-flagged items and whether we need to pivot and move our program to direct our attention towards those that are emerging or causing issues or potentially opportunity elsewhere.
The program also will include a strong commercialisation support stream as well. This really is around taking existing products, or products that have demonstrated a proof of concept and a real market opportunity, but requires support in moving that to the next stage.
The Commercialisation Support Program is this stage tagged for release later this calendar year and we'll certainly be doing some active consultation with industry around what that offer needs to look like to ensure that we're providing the right level of support in the right areas to really realise those opportunities that we're seeing.
I've already touched on the Market Intelligence Material Horizons Scan of program and, again, that remains consistent across all these streams. Moving along to the next stream is Organics, again, one of the key focuses of the RV policy is a huge move to reduce the amount of organic material going to landfill. On the back of that, there is a likelihood that we will see an increased amount of recycled organics being produced as these materials are diverted to composters and reprocessors and the like. Our program of work in organics, in some respects, mirrors what we're doing in the material stream. However, there are there a couple of nuances there because we're dealing with an industry that traditionally doesn't export a lot of organics as there's not a lot of demand or a lot of sense of exporting organics at this point in time. So, while some of the, I guess, mechanisms we'll use are familiar, they'll be somewhat different in terms of how they're delivered.
I will flag that we'll be looking to release our R&D program for organics materials in the coming months as well, which will take a similar flavour to this program, albeit it targeting a slightly different sector and a slightly different approach. So, do keep your eyes peeled for release of that. We'll also be undertaking a significant investment in industry capability. As part of this uplift in supply for organics, we know that industry will need to increase its capacity and capability to respond to that demand and that opportunity. We aim to work in partnership with EPA and DELWP in ensuring that we have a best practice organics processing and recycling industry available to, I guess, realise that opportunity and really demonstrate some real innovation in that space in Victoria. That'll be supported with a detailed program of work that aims to not only identify and market opportunity for recycled organics but support the flow of that product into those markets that are identified through the research that they're currently completing.
And finally, the Investment Facilitation Service, one that links in really closely and provides coverage right across the range of programs that we deliver at SV, not just this markets program itself. This essentially is a partnership or a brokerage-type role that is delivered out of Sustainability Victoria. The idea being that this aims to support new investors and existing investors to navigate the government approval and investment pathways. It can be something as simple as directing investors to the right grant program that potentially suits their needs or marries or, I guess, aligns with their current sort of development needs or it can be something more detailed in relation to needing specific data or support in relation to building a business case for an application, right through to contacts at EPA in regards to things like works approvals and the like. The program does include some smaller grant programs which aim to really, again, help to build the business case and the investment case for some of the infrastructure investments that are being brought forward.
I should also say, in recent times, Investment Facilitation Services played a much more of a brokerage role in terms of matching recycled material supply to demand and really trying to build, I guess, a connection between some of our reprocesses and the manufacturers that require these products for use.
That's enough from me this afternoon. Appreciate everyone joining us for the conversation today. I'm going to hand back over to Jean, who's going to give us a much more detailed run-through of the R&D program.
Thank you, Shannon. Thanks, everyone. Thanks, Emily and Shannon. Great overview of where we're currently at. I'm going to provide an overview of R&D fund.
The Research and Development Fund, referred to as the R&D fund, has been designed to support industry and research institutes to accelerate markets for recycled priority materials by developing innovative products and processes that will increase confidence and demand for recycled products in Victoria.
We know that some common barriers to industry investing in R&D can include cost benefit and allocating resources to innovate, limited staff time available for the purpose of research, lack of in-house expertise to investigate and develop new products or processes, and possibly access to technical experts within research organisations.
This program aims to overcome some of these barriers by providing funding support for collaboration between industry and academia, supporting the diversification of products and processes that are both existing and emerging to use recycled content, and obviously supporting innovation so recycled material products cost competitive in the marketplace. So, the total value of this program is $1.8 million and applicants can request between $75,000 and up to $300,000 in funding.
So, who will be funded? So, you might have seen if you've reviewed our guidelines, we refer to the lead applicants, so this is the organisation that will submit the application and will be responsible for the contractual obligations the funding agreement with the SV, if you're successful for funding.
For this fund, the lead applicant must be a research institute and this is an organisation that can carry out research and development activities and for this particular fund, research institute can be a tertiary education institute, a government agency established for the purpose of research, a cooperative research center, an institute or center for research or a privately owned and accredited research facility that is based in Victoria.
For example, if you have the laboratory within your organisation that is accredited under NATA, so the National Association of Testing Authorities, you can apply as a lead applicant.
If you are a privately owned research facility, you will need to provide evidence of your accreditation and you'll find that in our guidelines under fund definitions, you can look up the definition of what we might mean by the research institute.
The lead applicant also must have a current Australian Business Number and have been operating for a minimum of 2 years from the 19th of April 2021, when applications close.
A key requirement for the lead applicant is you also need a lead industry partner. So, a key component and benefit of this fund is really supporting that collaboration.
Under the fund, it is a requirement that you have at least one industry partner who must have operations in Victoria and have an ABN. So, an industry partner is any organisation assisting in the delivery of the lead applicant's research project. You can have multiple industry partners. So, if you have more than one, you will need to nominate the lead industry partner for your project and additional industry partners may be based outside of Victoria, but they must have a current ABN.
The lead applicant must also provide evidence of partnership. So with the lead industry partner, you have some form of agreement such as a memorandum of understanding and provide that as evidence. And for any additional industry partners, you can provide evidence of partnership through, such as a letter of support. So, any formal agreements can be submitted under milestone one. If you are successful in the fund, it'll be a requirement that you provide that evidence to SV.
A commonly asked question that we've received so far is, "Do I need to be in operation for a minimum of 2 years?" Just to clarify, for the lead applicant, yes. But for the industry partners, there's no minimum requirement for the length of operation as long as you have an Australian Business Number.
Shannon's already touched on the materials, but for this particular fund, we are the recycled priority materials: glass, paper and cardboard, plastics and tyres. So, your project must investigate at least one of these materials. You'll find on our website in the guidelines under the definitions that we have definitions for each of these materials.
In the guidelines, we've clearly outlined what SV grant funding can be used for to deliver your research projects. So, I've listed these on the slide. I won't go through each one. And in additional to that, you can also refer to the guidelines for a long list of what won't be funded under this program. So most notably, I just wanted to highlight that this fund does not include demonstrations or field trials which we have included in previous programs that you may have participated in. So, this fund is more focused on that proof of concept and prototype development and manufacture.
Co-contribution requirements. So, the financial co-contribution for this program is a minimum of one to one, so for every dollar that SV invests a minimum of one dollar must be contributed by the lead applicant and its industry partners. So, up to 20% of the co-contribution must be from the nominated lead industry partner and the remaining 80% of that co-contribution can be split as required between the lead applicant and any other additional partners. So, this can be a mix of both in-kind and financial cash contribution and there's no requirement of whether that's 100% in-kind or 100% financial cash contribution.
Additional to that, you must identify and declare any funding from other government sources. So, for example, if you've received, if you're part of an Australian Research Council grant and you're using that towards your co-contribution, you would just need to list that in your grant application.
And additional to that on your screen, in the application form, you'll find an example of the budget table for your reference. So, we have this particular example is in the SmartyGrants application, which you can refer to when populating the budget table.
How will applications be accessed? So, the assessment panel will use a weighted merit criterion as displayed on the screen, looking at the what, who, why, and how and under each of these sections or criteria, you'll have to populate different questions.
I just want to note that SV may overlay rankings to achieve an overall diversity of the projects and that includes the lead applicant and the size of the industry partner, the products and the processes that are being researched and also the diversity of recycled product and materials that are being investigated.
The questions in the application form will really guide you obviously to the types of information that the assessors are seeking, but it's recommended that you download the application form from SmartyGrants so you can review the types of information needed to support your application.
During the initial research scoping phase, we highly encourage you to consider things such as the type of material, for example, if you're using plastics, what particular plastic code will you be targeting, just researching the cost of that material to be used, and where'll you'll source particular materials from. Also, factoring things such as will you include a cost benefit and lifecycle analysis in the research scope, if performance requirements are met, who would purchase or use this product, so who is the end user? And if you're meeting a specification, provide details on what that is and what is the process to meet that particular specification or standard?
Additional to this, also considering so what are the potential human and health or environmental impacts in developing this product or process, such as how will the product be managed at end of life, will it break down in the environment, what is the anticipated life expectancy of the project?
So, what's involved if you are successful? You'll find details online under funding conditions in the guidelines under 6.1, What is Required of Successful Applicants. We'll also hear from John later who'll provide that insight from an industry partner perspective, but basically you would need to submit a detailed project plan and then deliver that plan as agreed through the application and the agreed to final project plan. You'll be required to facilitate progress meetings, which would be with all parties including SV, participate in activities with SV to distribute the findings to the broader stakeholders and also, as I've already mentioned, develop a formal partnership between the lead applicant and lead industry partners.
Tips for writing your application. We ask if possible if you can ask any questions that you may have through inquiries line by Thursday the 15th of April. So, this just allows 2 business days to have any questions that you have answered before the applications close on the 19th of April. We encourage you to apply early, ideally before the 19th of April. Incomplete or late applications cannot be accepted as our online system won't actually allow for that. So, submit only when you're certain that everything is done and complete and include all critical information directly in the form, so this will ensure assessors understand your project clearly. We really recommend that you include only necessary information and try not to duplicate information as you move through the application.
Assessors must review every single one of your documents so be clear and only include those attachments which are really absolutely necessary. We encourage you to do the top trick is to write clearly and simply and know that dot points are okay. And our recommendation from our grants team is the acronym of CASH. So, be clear, consistent, accurate, succinct, and honest.
The application process, so first thing is first, you'll need to obviously check your eligibility. So, if you have any questions on eligibility, please send an email to our grants enquiries team if you're unsure if you cannot personally apply. Following that, ensure your project meets the assessment criteria and then read the general funding agreements terms and conditions and, as well as understanding the terms of participation in an SV grants program.
There, also located on our guidelines, which are online located under the 4.1 compliance criteria section and this will also provide information on intellectual property and other clauses and requirements as part of participating in our general funding agreement.
Following this, so plan research and gather information for your application. So, I think I've already said, download the application form which you can do through SmartyGrants, so you can get clear on the questions you'll need to provide information on.
And then, following this, register or log onto SmartyGrants if you already have an existing account with the online grants platform, complete and submit your application via SmartyGrants and then you should receive an electronic email acknowledging your application.
If you do have any issues in actually populating or creating your SmartyGrants account, you can also just go through our grants inquiries 1300 number or send an email if that is preferred.
I thought I would just give a very high-level overview of some of our previously funded research projects. So, since 2016, SV has funded 29 research, development and demonstration projects so we've invested over $4 million into projects that are similar to what this fund is focusing on, that have really looked at new and innovative uses for recycled priority materials, which has varied over the different grant streams and has included organics, e-wastes, concrete, brick, glass, plastics, tyres, paper, and cardboard.
As mentioned, a key component of this fund is really providing that financial incentive for industry to innovate through collaboration and just displayed on this screen is some of the research institutes and some of the industry partners who have been involved in our research programs to date.
We have a full list of previously funded projects and case studies on the SV website, which we'll provide that link for anyone that wants to look at previously funded projects. But I just thought I'd give just a high level overview of some of the projects that we funded to date.
One of those includes university of Melbourne, who has investigated the replacement of quarried sand for recycled glass fines in concrete. This project included a demonstration trial at Reservoir Station. Deacon University and its partners are investigating the use of recycled polyethylene, so it's a type of plastic, and how that can be potentially reused in the production of low-density and high-density polyethylene production. Victoria University is leading the development of a blend that uses recycled plastics, glass, tyres as trench backfill, particularly in clay areas that have high clay content. And then another project is led by Monash Institute of Rail Technology and its partner, who's leading the development of a rail sleeper made from recycled plastics to replace timber sleepers and, as a result of this research, the recycled plastic sleeper, has been trialed in 3 different locations in Victoria so far.
Some key program outcomes to date include, we funded 29 research projects, and to date, we've had 7 demonstration trials with more upcoming in the next few months.
Research results have informed the revision of multiple VicRoads standards and the publication of a newly created VicRoads specification, specifically for lightly trafficked roads. We've seen the production of Reconophalt, which is now a fully commercialised product that is supplied across Australia. We've had 3 organisations to date that have received additional funding to continue product development via federal government funding, which you'll hear from Robovoid shortly. We had seen multiple general article publications that have been submitted and published on various online journal articles or journal publications and we really supported building knowledge and collaboration between academia and industry.
That is a summary of the R&D fund. So, now I'd like to introduce Dr. John Stehle. So, John is an internationally experienced structural engineering expert who has worked on a wide range of major engineering projects for over 20 years. He's widely recognised as an innovator and is a prolific inventor of construction products and solution.
John was an industry partner of an SV funded project and will provide an overview of his experience of partnering with a research institute and the benefits that has brought to his business. So, I'll hand it over to you, John.
All right. Thanks, Jean, and thanks for the invitation today so that we can share our experience with others who might be interested in applying for grants.
Just a bit of background. I've been in construction and knowing very little about plastics until recently, but what we all know is the environmental drivers are becoming more important for new sustainable solutions.
So, my thinking, probably 5 years ago, was turning more towards sustainable construction methods and maybe if we go onto the next one.
So, I started thinking about how we could use less concrete in the construction and I came up with an idea of a void former solution, which could be made from 100% recycled plastic and it could reduce the amount of concrete in construction by a large amount and since concrete's associated with up to, some people would say, as high as 8% of the world's CO2 emissions, then it's quite a good place to make an impact in terms of sustainability. So, this idea came together and we were looking for our partners and funding to take it forward.
So, just a bit of a brief illustration of the product. So, the idea is on the left, we have an image of normal concrete construction, and on the right, we have an image with the Robovoid solution. So, you can see the recycled plastic cone shapes click together to form a void assembly, which can be used to create a void in concrete structures.
So, basically we're taking out the concrete where it's not really required for strength purposes in construction and depending on geometries, you can save between 20 and 75% of the amount of concrete.
Hello, everyone. I think we have lost John. So, not sure where he's gone, but the internet's not working. So, we might move onto some commonly asked questions and hopefully John can join us back in a moment.
I'm just going to slide through these presentations. So, yeah, while we wait for John to hopefully join us again, we'll just provide a bit of an overview of the key dates. So, applications, which I've mentioned a few times, applications close 3 pm 19th of April, and notification of outcome is within 90 days from the closing date. So, we're aiming to having funding agreements established by August 2021 and projects commenced by August 2021.
Projects must be completed within 2 years of signing the SV funding agreement. So, it's no requirement that your project goes for 2 years, but it must be completed within the 2-year time frame.
And so, just noting that these timelines are indicative only and may change but we will endeavor to meet these, get timelines that we proposed.
So, before we get to the section on, open up to the floor for questions. I just thought I'd answer just a few commonly asked questions that we've received. So, the first one is,
Question: How do I connect with a research institute?
So, on our Information bulletin on our website, we've listed some Victorian tertiary institutions and their industry engagement webpage. So, a lot of universities have pages on where industry can go and they can match you with a suitable team within their organisation. You can also send us an email at grant inquiries and we will see if we can provide recommendations for your specific needs.
Question: Can I submit multiple applications for different projects?
The answer is yes. Eligible organisations can submit multiple applications for different projects.
Question: If you have already submitted an application for another SV grant and are awaiting the outcome, can I still apply?
So, the answer is yes. You can apply for multiple funding programs obviously provided your project meets a specific eligibility and assessment criteria. And yeah, if you're still awaiting the outcome and not sure if you've been successful, we definitely encourage you to apply for this particular fund, if you meet all the criteria needs.
Question: Can SV provide feedback on my proposed research project?
So, the answer is no. As this is a competitive process, we're unable to review a draft or provide feedback on the potential merit of a project. We do encourage applicants to consider and address how the project meets the eligibility criteria and the merit criteria that I outlined before in your application.
So, there are kind of just some, yeah, commonly asked questions which I thought I would answer first and I'll just check with the team to see if we have John back online but no. Doesn't seem that we do.
Okay. So, now, I might open it up to questions that we've had published online. So, Rachel, I might open it up to you to read out any specific questions that Emily or Shannon or I can provide a response to.
Thanks, Jean. We've actually got quite a healthy list of questions to get through, so just mindful of time. If we don't answer your question during this session, we will be issuing an Information bulletin early next week with responses to these questions.
So, the first one I have is from Dylan.
Question: Can the field installation/monitoring cost be covered by SV funds in this R&D project?
Sorry. I was muted. So, for this particular project, fund, sorry, when the project costs that SV grant can be used for is not for actual installation. It could be for procurement of materials, but not for the associated costs with the actual installation, if that makes sense.
Question: Cash contribution from the industry partner mandatory or the minimum 20% co-contribution can be all in-kind?
Yeah. There's no specific requirements if that's cash or in-kind, so it can be split, as you see, what suits your business needs. So, can be 100% in-kind or it can be 100% cash contribution.
Question: Who controls the IP for project deliverables?
So, the IP is the intellectual property for our contract will be with the lead applicant, so based on the clause in the general planning agreement, IP belongs to the contracting party, so, possibly a university but then, you have the ability as a partner to make your own formal agreements on how you share that intellectual property or who owns that intellectual property based on the different partners that are involved in the process. So, that would be undertaken through own arrangements, through possibly a memorandum of understanding and, those discussions are led by industry partners. But, from our perspective, we go into contract with the lead applicant, whoever that might be.
Question: Does lab equipment purchased and materials and consumables purchased for the project, are they considered as financial cash contributions?
Off the top of my head, I think that they are considered in-kind, but we have on our guidelines, in our definitions, we have what we mean by in-kind and a financial cash contribution. I will come back to you on that one, but we do, I can't remember if it's cash or financial. Have to respond to that outside of this presentation.
Jean, if I could just jump in, I think that capital expenditure for infrastructure within the lab would potentially not be allowed for. We need to clarify that. Just depends on whether that equipment is being purchased prior to development or commencement of this project or whether it's something that's specifically for completion of a particular research component but we would need to clarify in that instance.
Yeah. Sorry. I think I misheard the question. So, any equipment, so SV funding can be used for the hiring of particular equipment, but we wouldn't actually be funding any purchase or procurement of infrastructure for the specific research project.
Yeah. Great. Thanks, Jean. And I guess it was a bit of a multipronged question in that will consumables and materials be considered cash as well?
I think they're considered in-kind. I'll have to confirm that.
Great. Another from anonymous.
Question: Do we need to have previous working relationships with lead industry partners to be able to submit for the grant? So, does there need to be a history of working together with an industry partner?
No. There's no requirement that you'd have to have a history.
Question: What checks do you undertake to ensure that what you're funding doesn't already exist? For example, if one of my competitors seeks government funding for a recycled product that I produce?
Good question. So, I guess that's in the application as a question around project background. So, we require information about what's being done in this space around this particular project or product and how you'll be using existing knowledge and information to inform your research project.
So, we ask that from the applicant and then I guess it's on the assessment panel to then review that and they can enquire further with the applicant or do their own kind of assessment to see what the market currently exists within the market.
Question: Is there a minimum volume of recycled material that you'll be looking forward to justify a grant from the program? For example, does a proposal have to use at least a hundred thousand kilograms of tires or 50,000 kilograms of glass?
Good question, Dave. So, no. Obviously this is research and development, so it's very much in that early stages of laboratory testing, proof of concept. So, there's no minimum requirement for the tonnages or an expectation of what you would meet in the early phases of product development. So, we don't set any requirements on materials that need to be as an output. We do have a question in the application that looks at potential market, market pull or market demand for this particular product, so what the opportunity is if this product was successful, how many tonnes do you think you would process or use each year? But we factor in, at the stage is the kind of estimation and you would still have to undertake a lot of development to kind of get to that final stage of commercialisation. So, answer is no, there's no minimum requirement for recycled content to be used in your project.
Thanks, Jean. We actually do have John back on the line, if we do want to continue on with his presentation.
Sorry about that, guys. Someone called me, so I stupidly turned off my phone when I was running the internet through hot spot. So, anyway.
All right. We might just go back to your slides because I think it would be beneficial for those online just to get a snapshot in your involvement in our grant. So, I'll go back to your slides.
Yeah. So, was it this one?
Yeah. I think you were at this slide, yes.
Yeah. So, when we had our ideas with our product, from my past experience, I was very familiar with the use of technology readiness levels, which helps map out your research project.
So, if you haven't heard of technology readiness levels before, just Google it on the internet and you find a lot of organisations around the world use this process and it's very helpful for mapping out your research project.
So, things we had to think about, of course, first, well what's the state of the art in terms of what we were doing? Was it new, was it innovative, or we just copying someone else? So, we really need to understand the space you're working in and look what's happening around internationally as well.
You also need to think about your IP protection. If it's something novel, do you need to patent it or can you keep it confidential in different ways? You could have confidentiality agreements. You need to start talking to people who are the best partners to help you travel along your journey in terms of the whole supply chain? You need to look your own capabilities and what other people can bring to the table. Do you develop things like business case, et cetera, but what we found was we had to design our product a lot and we had to go through a lot of iterations and testing to refine the product.
So, what we found actually is as we progressed, we learned a lot along the way and so you really need to keep taking a fresh look at your project and keep moving and transforming your business but critically, of course, is the funding side of things, and if we move onto the next slide, we were looking around for a lot of funding opportunities, and there's a lot more out there than these, but these are some of the ones we came across: there was advanced manufacturing hub voucher program, which we were lucky to get. We know there's the R&D tax incentive as well, so you can get some money back from the government when you spend money on research through the taxation system. There's the SV grants, which we found very good and we were very fortunate to get one. We've been very privileged to be part of that process. And I think we got this second time we tried and so I think in a way, it was probably lucky we didn't get it the first time we tried because the first time, I don't think we really had planned what we were going to do as best as we could.
So, if you're not lucky the first time, don't think of it as a bad thing necessarily because it can make you better the second time around or third time. Similarly with ... Well, there's AUSTRADE grants, which you can get further down the line. And we came across the CRC-p grants and we were fortunate to get one of those the third time we applied for them.
So, it takes a lot of persistence and a lot of hunting and developing your story and the really understanding the business case around your product and getting partners on board and they all have to believe in it as well. So, we probably talked to probably about 50 different organisations through the process and we sort of work out who fits in the best.
Now, if you could move onto the next one. So, it's important to mention that Swinburne was the lead applicant for our project. And so early days, we started talking to them and, in particular, Professor Emad Gad and Dr. Mostafa Nikzad, who's, Mostafa's very good in the space of plastics and is very helpful in pulling this all together for us.
And so we applied with Swinburne and we applied with GT Recycling as well, who were a company in Geelong that recycled a range of plastics. And yeah, so we're very fortunate to have the source of recycled plastic as well as the academic side in the project. And at that stage, we were just a startup company, so to have those two organizations work with us is very fortunate.
So, early days, we had to agree on how the IP was going to work and how the budget was going to be spent and it's important you really need to agree that before you start the project, so there's no confusion down the track.
Yeah, so good thing to know is that, because Swinburne is the lead applicant, that means they had to do all the paperwork, which is good for an industry partner, so it makes life a lot easier. So, but that was great. And Mostafa put together his reports and we helped support that process and you agree a reporting schedule to Sustainability Victoria in advance and it's approximately every 6 months or so from memory and that was quite smoothly working with Jean and her colleagues.
Moving onto the next one. Yeah, so just to give you a bit of an idea of some of the R&D tasks we performed during the project, we had to work out what type of plastics were suitable for our product. We had to understand that the plastics had that performing, our production process and we had to develop our product through molding and manufacturing trials to see if it would do what we wanted it to do. So, maybe moving onto the next slide.
So, this is a bit of a snapshot of looking at the recycled plastics. So, GT Recycling were able to supply a number of plastics and the recycled plastics, we narrowed it down to 3 sources. One is from bulker bags, one is from bunker tops, and one is from bulker bags, and old polypropylene plastics. And we were unsure about how that'd all perform in our mould because you had quite a complex mould. And the challenge there was over the unknown was could we be sure that the plastic would flow to all the corners of the mould and form a good quality product that we could use?
And so you had to look at things like viscosity and MFI, the mold flow index values. So, it meant a lot of testing of the material properties, which were very helpful in terms of doing that modelling.
So, before we spent lots of money on building a mould and these moulds can cost anything from $10,000 up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, it's important that you really spend a lot of time on getting your mould designed right in advance of investing in the physical mould.
So, moving onto the next step, the next slide maybe. So, once we decide to invest in the mould, we conducted some production trials and you can see in the middle, one of the pieces in the early days was not looking very good, but that was all about learning and refining the mould design further and making a few tweaks to the processing in terms of the pressures and the temperatures that you use in the production process.
But, anyway, after probably about 5 iterations, we got to a good product. It's on the top right and with that piece, you could then use that to click it together to form these subassemblies that go into concrete structures. And can see someone standing on the subassembly there. So, that was one of the other criteria being able to stand on it. So, that fortunately worked out quite well. So, that gives you a bit of a few snapshots of the type of tasks that we had to perform in our project and if we move onto the next slide.
Yeah. Just some of the outcomes that were achieved. What we're able to do is progress the invention of going back to the technology readiness levels, we got to take it from an idea basically an invention through to more of a bench. We've proved it at small scale and improved the concepts that these parts had work and click together and so that was great.
And so, by us moving forwards towards commercialisation, that's going to help GT Recycling generate, say, will generate the markets for their plastics, have more volume to sell and by Swinburne University conducting research with this and the funding that they were able to get out of the grant. That helped them publish papers and increase their research status and that might be one of the institutions you might consider talking to if your project and yeah, and post-grad students helped with the research as well so that was great.
Moving us on next one. And a big gap come for us was towards the end of the project, we were fortunate to get a federal government grant, a CRC-P grant, which is, I think it's worth over $2 million from government and now, we've increased our amount of partners. So, we've got about 9 partners working with us.
So, now we've got more of this sort of supply chain engaged, we've got the precast concrete company so that's an end user. We've got a specifier. We've got BG&E Consulting. They're well-known structural engineering. We've got Geetha Engineering, who make the actual tools that make the moulds for the plastic, GT, I mentioned before. We've got Ancon, they're a building products business, so they can use that product and help us perhaps commercialise it internationally down the road. And we've also got RMIT helping with their expert on facade and fire aspects. Anyway, and so that's been a great outcome for us.
So, we're hoping to move forward toward on the commercialisation through to TRL with 6 to 7 and we're about halfway through that. So, we have to keep thinking about how you're going to get to the market and moving forward. And so if we move onto the next slide. That's it. So, thanks for that and sorry for dropping out before.
Thanks for that overview, John. Rachael, is there any questions specifically for John?
Oh, let me just have a look. There's quite a few questions that we've responded to. No. None specifically targeting John. I think he gave a really good rundown of his project.
Great. Well, thank you so much for that overview, John.
Yeah. No problem. Great.
You redeemed from the technical issues. So, I guess, to close out, Rachael, is there any additional questions online that we need to respond to or those that we haven't answered, we can respond directly. Is there any other questions that we need to respond to?
Yes. There's probably a couple of good ones. Just mindful of time.
Question: Can the industry partner be a startup with no business yet?
So, yes. You just need to have Australian business number and, depending if you're not the lead industry partner, you don't need to be based in Victoria but if you're the lead industry partner, you have to have operations in Victoria.
Great. Thanks, Jean. There's just a couple of questions around connecting with industry partners as well.
Question: Research group from UniMelb would like to apply for this grant. Just wondering, is there any support from SV to connect industry partners with universities or do universities need to find suitable collaborative industry partners on their own?
So, the intention is that you would find your own industry partners but you can send an email to grants enquiries outlining the kind of partner that you're seeking and SV may be able to provide some support.
I might also just add there, too, Jean, the existing project register that we got included on our website for R&D may give you some indication around some of those industry partners that may be interested in participating in your research area and likewise, too, in terms of some of the university partners and leads from that respect to them. Again, might give you some ins, so to speak, in terms of who may be the right people to speak to at the universities and research agencies involved.
Great. I think that's all for the questions that cover the grant application process.
Great. Okay. Well, thank you. Let's close it out. So, thank you everyone for attending. Thank you to our presenters for providing your presentations. So, we had some really good questions and those that we, as I said before, we'll update any questions that were asked and then we'll respond to, I will put those on the Information bulletin and then, we'll send an email to all registered attendees early next week.
Just a final reminder, applications are due 19th of April at 3 pm. We thank you all for your interest and we really look forward to seeing your applications.
If you have any additional questions regarding the fund, you can contact our grant support representative. So, we have a phone number and the grants enquiries email is the place to do that.
And finally, the session was recorded so we will be making this available via our, we'll upload it to our website. Yeah. And, as I said, we really look forward to seeing your applications.
Below you will find the questions we have received from interested parties and our responses.
We have only listed questions and answers that are not addressed on in the program guidelines.
Are there specific requirements on the amount or percentage of in-kind or financial (cash) contributions from either the Lead Applicant, Lead Industry Partner or any additional Industry Partners?
See section 10. Fund definitions in the guidelines:
Co-contribution definition: the applicant’s required cash or in-kind contribution to the total project income. Co-contributions can include both in-kind and financial (cash).
The Lead Industry Partner must contribute a minimum 20% to the project. There is no minimum requirement for a financial (cash) or in-kind contribution; this can be split as required between both in-kind and financial (cash).
The remaining 80% of the project costs can be split as required, between the Lead Applicant and/or Industry Partner(s). This means there is no minimum requirement for a financial (cash) or in-kind contribution, this can be split as required between both in-kind and financial (cash).
Note: You must identify and declare any funding from other government sources, for example Australian Research Council (ARC) or Cooperative Research Centre’s (CRC) used towards your co-contribution.
Do I need to be in operation for a minimum of 2 years? For the Lead Applicant – yes, you need to have been in operation for a minimum of 2 years, as of the closing date of the Fund (19 April 2021). This is validated by the date that the organisation’s ABN is active from.For Industry Partner (s) – there is no minimum requirement for the length of operation. Noting that all Industry Partners must have a current Australian Business Number (ABN).
Can the Industry Partner be a new start-up business? Yes, there is no requirement for any minimum length of operation for Industry Partners. Noting that all Industry Partners must have a current Australian Business Number (ABN).
Lead Applicants and their Related Entities (if applicable) and their Lead Industry Partner should demonstrate financial capability to undertake the project.As per section 5.3 Due diligence in the guidelines:SV may conduct due diligence checks on the Industry Partner(s) involved in the delivery of the project. The applicant must ensure that any Industry Partner(s) agree to cooperate with this requirement and will provide information at SV’s request.SV reserves the right not to award funding to applicants where the due diligence risk (including that of Industry Partner(s) is unsatisfactory or not able to be managed.
Is there a minimum volume of recycled material that assessors will be looking for to justify funding a grant? For example, does a proposal have to use at least 100,000 kg of tyres or 50,000 kg of glass?
No, as this fund is supporting research and development, the assessment criteria does not require projects to use a minimum tonnage of recycled materials.
However, in the application form you’ll find 2 questions that ask you to provide details on the potential market opportunity for your proposed product or process. The questions are in Section 3: Project details and are:
Q2. Describe why this research is needed, including what the potential market opportunity is and how it will support the following objectives of this Fund. For example:- improve confidence and investment in using recycled priority materials- increase demand and uptake of products made from recycled priority materials.
Q4. What do you anticipate is the potential for recycled content use that this project can achieve? Please provide estimated figures. Based on the commercialisation steps and market uptake that you have outlined.
Can SV provide feedback on my proposed research project?
No, as this is a competitive process we are unable to review a draft or provide feedback on the potential merit of a project.
We encourage applicants to consider and address how the project meets the eligibility criteria, and to describe how the project addresses the merit criteria outlined in the fund guidelines and application form.
Can I submit more than one grant application?
Yes, eligible organisations can submit multiple applications for different infrastructure projects. Please note eligible applications will be assessed using a contested process against the merit criteria in the fund guidelines. SV may also adjust application rankings based on the following factors to achieve diversity of:
Can I submit multiple applications for different research projects?
Yes, eligible organisations can submit multiple applications for different projects.
I’ve already applied for another SV grant (awaiting outcome) can I still apply for this Fund?
You can apply for multiple funding programs provided your project meets the specific eligibility and assessment criteria. Eligible applications will be assessed using a contested process against the merit criteria in the program’s guidelines.
Each program has different objectives, eligibility requirements and assessment criteria and your application should be specific to the program you are applying for. If you have submitted an application to another Sustainability Victoria funding program, you need to advise this in your application form. SV will not provide funding from more than one RV Fund for the same project.
What other support does SV have available?
You can read more about previously funded Research, Development and Demonstration projects and recipients and review some project case studies.
You can learn more about the type of products that are out in the marketplace by checking out the Buy Recycled Directory.
SV’s Investment Facilitation Service is a free service that can help you identify opportunities to progress your projects, including market intelligence, potential commercial partnerships, links across government agencies, regulatory requirements and both public and private funding avenues.
The service is complimentary and can be accessed at firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 8656 6721.
I have a specific question about a material type and want some market intelligence.
You can access Sustainability Victoria's Market Bulletin for market insights by materials stream in Victoria.
The bulletin highlights material flows (local and overseas markets), commodity prices, any significant changes to local market through to opportunities within the industry.
If you require detailed information on a particular material stream, for example feedstock availability, please get in touch at Invest@sustainability.vic.gov.au to discuss your enquiry further.
The bulletin is produced in partnership with external government and industry experts.
If I am unsuccessful, will I receive feedback?
Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing via email and are welcome to request feedback on their application. Requests for feedback should be made by email to email@example.com
How do I engage with a university?
If you have a research idea and need support connecting with a Victorian University, visit:
Does my organisation need to have a previous working relationship with the Lead Industry Partner to be able to apply for the grant?
No, it is not a requirement for the Lead Applicant and Industry Partner (s) to have had a prior working relationship.
Does SV have a list of Industry Partners available?
No, SV does not have a list of industry partners. We recommend you check out previously funded projects and its partners. You can read more about previously funded Research, Development and Demonstration projects and recipientsWhat are the Intellectual Property requirements under this fund?
Refer to clause 21 Intellectual Property of the Materials Research and Development - General Funding Agreement (pdf, 281kB).If you have specific questions on the general funding agreement, please email these to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Am I able to get a copy of the presentation?
Yes, you can view the information session recording here.If you’d like a copy of the presentation slides, please email email@example.com and put in the subject title: REQUEST R&D Fund webinar presentation slides
Will there be future rounds of R&D funding? If so, what is the likely timing?
Yes, future R&D funding is planned, timelines are to be confirmed. To keep up to date on future grants, subscribe to our Grants and funding alert.
How many projects usually get funded per round?
The total program value is $1.8 million. The number of funded projects is dependent on the number and quality of applications received and how much recommended projects request in funding.
You can read more about previously funded Research, Development and Demonstration projects and recipients