8. Funding

NHMRC funding is provided by the Australian Government and administered in accordance with the Funding Agreement. Funding is provided to the Administering Institution, which is responsible for the administration of the grant.

8.1 Level and Duration of Funding

NHMRC’s Research Committee (RC) annually reviews and recommends an indicative budget to be awarded across Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA) funding schemes. Funding recommendations for individual schemes are considered by RC on completion of grant review processes throughout the year.

Limits on the level and duration of funding for individual grants are outlined in the relevant scheme-specific funding rules.  Duration of five years is common for many NHMRC funding schemes, to allow for greater career certainty and in recognition that high quality research is becoming increasingly complex to perform.  Where no fixed level or duration is specified, the requested funding and duration must be justified in the application.

For Research Support schemes, GRPs generally recommend a budget and duration for each application based on the budgets requested by applicants, the requirements of each proposal as assessed by the GRPs, their knowledge of the costs associated with the research, any limits specified in the relevant scheme-specific funding rules, and value for money considerations.

Budgets may be reduced where the GRP considers that all aims and objectives can be achieved with the recommended funds. A reduced budget does not reduce the scope of the proposed research activity.

Budgets may also, or alternatively, be assessed by senior NHMRC scientists with a research background, such as where peer review is conducted by a funding partner. In all cases, NHMRC reserves the right to recommend funding levels which are less than those requested in the application, and a duration of funding which differs from that requested.

For People Support schemes, funding level and duration are fixed according to the type of award, as set out in the relevant scheme-specific funding rules.

8.2 Duplicate Funding

NHMRC may compare the research proposed in grant applications with grants previously funded, currently funded,  and funded by other agencies (e.g. Australian Research Council (ARC), and published research (refer to section 7.2.). NHMRC will not fund research that it considers duplicates research previously or currently being undertaken.

As stated in the NHMRC’s Privacy Policy, NHMRC may disclose applicants’ personal information to overseas entities, Australian, State/Territory or local government agencies, organisations or individuals where necessary to assess an application or to administer a grant. This includes liaising with other funding agencies (such as the ARC) to discuss any overlap between applications in order to avoid duplication of funding.

8.3 Use of Funds

8.3.1 Budget Items for People Support Schemes

Applicants do not need to complete a budget because salary contributions for Fellows and Scholars are provided at fixed rates. NHMRC funding under Fellowships and Scholarships may only be expended for the purposes provided for in the relevant scheme-specific funding rules.

8.3.2 Budget Items for Research Support Schemes

NHMRC funding under Research Support Schemes may only be expended on Direct Research Costs (DRCs) as described in the NHMRC Direct Research Costs Guidelines. For further information see the Direct Research Costs page on the NHMRC website.

Applicants must provide the total value of requested items on a yearly basis and justify all budget items, paying particular attention to any requests which may be atypical for the particular field of research. Where applicable, applicants should also note and must comply with the following additional information and requirements:

  • Salaries:
    • Salary contributions for research staff are provided as Personnel Support Packages (PSPs).
    • Only eligible personnel may apply for a PSP. Refer to section 7 for further details.
    • The level of PSP requested in an application must match the roles and responsibilities of the position, not the expertise of a specific person whom the CIs intend to appoint to the position.
    • Annual indexation may be applied to PSPs, based on the Australian Government Wage Cost Index (WCI).
    • Further information about PSP amounts can be found on the Budget Mechanisms for NHMRC Research Funding page of the NHMRC website under Apply for funding.
  • Collection, processing, storage and distribution of biospecimens and associated data that are a direct requirement of the research project:
    • Biospecimen and associated data costs must be based upon published cost recovery schedules of biobanks or similar accredited bodies (e.g. Pathology services).
    • Given the significant expansion in biobank activities in Australia in the last decade, any new proposal for prospective funding of a biobank must specify why the samples cannot already be sourced from an existing biobank. Any proposal to establish a new biospecimen collection should seek to use infrastructure or services provided by biobanks or similar accredited bodies. Comprehensive justification for not using one of these must be provided.
  • Using the services of other research facilities:
    • Researchers should consult with research facilities to ensure that the services for which they are seeking DRC funding can be provided and that the research budgets reflect these charges. Letters from research facilities confirming their collaboration must be included with the application.
  • Items of equipment unique to the project and essential for the project to proceed:
    • Applicants must clearly outline the total value of all items of equipment for each year, why the equipment is required for the proposed research and why the equipment cannot be provided by the institution.
    • For each item of equipment requested, a written quotation must be received and held with the RAO of the Administering Institution, to be available to NHMRC on request.
    • The Administering Institution must be prepared to meet all service and repair costs in relation to equipment funded.
    • Funds will not be provided for the purchase of computers except where these are an integral component of a piece of laboratory equipment or are of a nature essential for work in the research field. For example: a computer which is dedicated to data collection from a mass spectrometer, or used for the manipulation of extensively large datasets (i.e. requiring special hardware).
    • Individual items of equipment costing less than $10,000 must be requested as DRCs.
    • Funding is not available for equipment totalling more than $80,000.
    • Annual indexation is applied to equipment, based on the Wage Cost Index (WCI).

GRPs will review proposed budgets and may recommend budgets less than those requested, as set out in section 8.1.

8.4 Tax Implications

All amounts referred to in the NHMRC Funding Rules and relevant scheme-specific funding rules are exclusive of GST, unless stated otherwise.

Administering Institutions are responsible for all financial and taxation implications associated with receiving funds.