NHMRC Changes to Grant Funding Program

On Thursday 25 May 2017, the NHMRC announced significant changes to the structure of its grant funding program.The changes will see the current NHMRC Project Grants, Program Grants and full suite of Fellowships schemes replaced with three new schemes: Investigator Grants, Synergy Grants and Ideas Grants. In addition, there will be a Strategic and Leveraging Grants stream, designed to support research that addresses identified national needs.While the terminology is new, the underlying elements are familiar. The Investigator grants are an evolved version of the Fellowships, and the Ideas the counterpart of Projects, Synergy of Program.

The NHMRC website provides a comprehensive overview and background to the changes, next steps and FAQs. We encourage those of you who may have questions to refer to this website as a first point of reference. A snapshot of  the changes can be found on Overview of NHMRC Restructured Grant Program and Timing and Next Steps.

**Update - NHMRC has released a tool designed to assist researchers in determining their eligibility for funding in the first round of the new grant program, the tool can be accessed on: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/restructure/changes/eligibility-tool-2019.  Researchers may find it useful to use now whilst thinking about the number of 2018 applications they propose submitting.
The new program will open for applications in late 2018-early 2019 for funding in 2020, this is deemed the ‘2019 grant round’. To determine your eligibility applicants are able to select their NHMRC grant portfolio (or what it could potentially be) as it will be on 1 January 2020. A report will immediately be produced confirming the number of applications/grants you will be eligible for under the new grant program.  Note that this eligibility is indicative only and may vary based on NHMRC funding rules or other policies. These rules do not affect eligibility for Strategic and Leveraging Grants.

Comprehensive updated information of the changes, including Eligibility and Budget breakdown was provided by Prof Anne Kelso (NHMRC CEO) on 18 August 2017. Slides of this webinar presention are available here.

For University of Melbourne staff, it is important to note that:

  • The new structure will be phased-in. NHMRC will call for applications for the restructured program in late 2018-early 2019, for peer review during 2019 and funding starting in 2020.
  • The 2018 application round will remain similar to the 2017 application round, however NHMRC have flagged that there will be transition arrangements such as capping of Project Grant applications to two per Chief Investigator.  The NHMRC have indicated that they will seek to apply a ‘no disadvantage’ principle to transition arrangements.
  • There will not be a Program Grant round in 2018, (for funding in 2020) with this years’ applications being the last for this scheme in its current form. Program Grants will be replaced by the Synergy Grant scheme with first applications in 2019 for funding in 2020.
  • All grants held by Researchers at the time of implementation will continue to be honoured under their existing schemes. We understand this to include all grants awarded in the current funding round (i.e. applications currently under review).
  • The NHMRC have yet to indicate transition arrangements relating to the impact of any currently held grants on eligibility for New Investigators as well as multiple research grant eligibility for Synergy and Ideas Grants.
  • Postgraduate Scholarships will continue to be funded and will fall under the Investigator Grant stream.
  • Targeted Calls for Research and the following existing schemes: Centres of Research Excellence, Development Grants, International Collaborative schemes, and Partnerships for Better Health (Partnership Centres and Partnership Projects)  will be retained under the Strategic and Leveraging Grants stream. A new Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies will be added to this stream following consultation.
  • The peer review processes to be applied to the new grants are yet to be determined.

As per the NHMRC recommendation any questions about the changes to the grant program should be directed to Research, Innovation and Commercialisation. For those who have questions that are not answered on the NHMRC website, please email us your queries. We may not be able to answer all your questions at this stage, but can contact the NHMRC on your behalf.


Email: uom-nhmrc-change@unimelb.edu.au

Phone: Frank Anastasopoulos 8344 8208