Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Collaborative Research Networks (CRN)

USC Research Futures Project

In 2011, USC was awarded A$5.45m as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) Program.

The first round funded twelve of Australia’s less research-intensive and regional universities to strategically build research capacity through working with partnering universities and related organisations in areas of common interest.

USC invested a further A$2.9m in the CRN project and teamed with Griffith University and the University of Tasmania (UTas) to develop research capacity through collaborative activities in the research theme areas of:

  • Aquaculture: biotechnology - genetics
  • Forest Sciences: genetics and ecosystems 
  • Water Sciences: marine and coastal ecology 
  • Sustainability: societal adaptation

CRN funds also support the building of research capacity in growing universities across the sector through the work of the USC Centre for Leadership in Research Development (CLRD).

The CLRD is receiving collaborative input and advice in its work from the Dean of Research and Research Training at the Queensland University of Technology, Professor Paul Burnett.

Project development

The Funding Agreement for the CRN Project was executed on 23 June 2011. USC was quick to advertise for CRN Research Fellows and received 114 applications.

Of these, over thirty promising researchers were interviewed with 17 candidates (15.7 FTE) finally accepting an offer.

These high quality appointments, ranging from a group of early career researchers, who had just completed their doctorate, to senior appointments up to professorial level, arrived at USC or at one of the partnering universities, and commenced their fellowships from January 2012.

A CRN Leadership Fellow at each of the partnering universities was nominated to work with the USC Research Theme Leaders in each of the four research theme areas.

The Leadership Fellows are very closely involved in their group’s projects development and will also provide critical leadership and mentoring to the appointed new Fellows.h the USC Research Theme Leaders in each of the four research theme areas.

Start-up and Seed funds were made available for the CRN Research Fellows to network and establish pilot projects with identified strong collaborative partners at the University of Tasmania or at Griffith University and other leading institutions in their field.

Those CRN Fellows who can successfully leverage their seed funding to earn themselves a substantive research fellowship will be able to convert the remainder of their CRN funds to start building a team of postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate research students.


The Funding Agreement for the CRN Project was executed on 23 June 2011 and a Collaborative Agreement between USC and the University of Tasmania and Griffith University was developed and signed in May 2012.

High level governance is managed by the CRN Executive Committee which comprises the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) of USC and a delegate representing the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at each of the partnering universities.

The four research theme leaders at USC are working with the nominated CRN Research Leadership Fellows at Griffith and UTas forming the CRN Leadership Committee.

More information

For more information contact:

Marieka Easterley
CRN Project Manager