FAQs - The UNSW Research Infrastructure Scheme

Answers to frequently asked questions about the scheme and the application process

For any questions that are not listed below, please contact pvcresin@unsw.edu.au

What is new in 2021?

Due to the financial impacts of Covid-19, funding for both the 2020 and 2021 rounds of the Research Infrastructure Scheme has been significantly reduced. Much of the 2021 remaining budget is pre-allocated due to the budget savings made in 2020. For this reason, most Faculties have decided to internally administer their RIS allocation for next year, and not go out for an open call as in previous years.

Additionally, there will be no budget for new Network Lab applications in the 2021 round. 

Your Faculty will inform you of their specific allocation process. If you are unsure or have any questions at all, please contact your Faculty’s research office directly, or the PVC (Research Infrastructure) on pvcresin@unsw.edu.au.

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Do I need to submit an EOI for the RIS?

As most Faculty's are distributing their RIS allocation internally in 2021, whether or not you need an EOI will be communicated to you by your Faculty.

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Are multiple applications to be submitted for cross-Faculty or Faculty/MWAC Infrastructure Projects?

If you intend to submit a cross-Faculty application for the 2021 round, please contact your Faculty's research office, and copy in the PVCRI (pvcresin@unsw.edu.au) as soon as possible to discuss options.

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Some of the named participants on my application are from other Faculties. Does this constitute a cross-Faculty/ MWAC Infrastructure Project?

No, projects are only considered as cross-Faculty/MWAC Infrastructure Projects if the requested funds are split over more than one Faculty and/or MWAC.

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What are the success rates for this scheme?

Success rates for the scheme are not available as they cannot be given accurately. Faculties might have different internal procedures, for example a call for EOI to select proposals for full applications, hence success rates are not representative.

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What are the submission deadlines for the scheme?

In 2021, this will largely depend on your Faculty's internal process. For applications administered by the DVCR (i.e. for UNSW Canberra), the deadline for submitting your application via our online portal is September 28, 2020.

The full list of key dates for the scheme together with guidelines, application forms, templates and other resources are available on the RIS website.

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Do I really have to provide three quotations with my application?

Yes, however exceptions apply under some circumstances*. For each individual item over $50,000 (excl. GST) three quotations obtained via Procurement's Request for Quote (RFQ) process is required. If your application is successful, you will still be able to choose the supplier you prefer regardless of potential cost savings, and you will not need to obtain a new quote, as quotes obtained via the RFQ process will be valid for 12 months.

Item under $50,000 (excl. GST) will only require 1 quote, an do not need to be obtained via the RFQ process**. Quotes are not required for items under $3,000 (excl. GST).

*Exceptions to this are general laboratory items listed in the UNSW Lab Equipment Panel. Items on this list have already gone through a negotiation process by Procurement, and will only require 1 quote (for items less than $350,000), and will not require an RFQ process**. Please refer to the UNSW Buying Guide for Lab/Workshop Supplies for more information.

**Although not required in under these circumstances, you can use the RFQ template to send a message to the supplier that you might be seeking other quotes (and increase your negotiation power) or to structure your request. However, if you prefer you can ask the supplier to submit their standard quote documentation (but you might not get some of the benefits outlined in the template.

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Do I have to use the Request for Quotation template provided?

You are strongly encouraged to use this template, as this will ensure suppliers are aware of the UNSW requirements that have to be met, and hence are able to set pricing accordingly. If awarded the funds, you might also be able to raise the Purchase Order based on this RFQ without the need for obtaining another quotation, since the RFQ template incorporates UNSW requirements and asks for a 12-month quotation validity.

Please refer to RFQ template for full instructions and exceptions. 

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How do I check whether my application duplicates already existing infrastructure at UNSW?

You are encouraged to check that the infrastructure you are applying for does not already exist at UNSW. Information on the shared equipment available at UNSW, including a database to search for UNSW shared equipment, is available here

As this database is currently still under development, the PVC (Research Infrastructure) is also reviewing applications for duplication.

If you have any specific concerns regarding duplication of infrastructure, please contact the PVCRI at pvcresin@unsw.edu.au

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I am setting up a new lab at UNSW, should I submit an application for a Network Lab?

No, these types of projects are not intended to fund the establishment of a new lab or capital works. Network Labs aim to facilitate access to and use of already existing research equipment/infrastructure at UNSW by providing research support staff to operate this equipment/infrastructure, provide training, etc. As for any application under this scheme, there also has to be appropriate space already available to house the Network Lab. You cannot ask for space or building services works under this scheme.

Due to Covid-19, there will be no budget for new Network Lab applications for the 2021 round.

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Can I include participants external to UNSW on my application, including from overseas?

No, all applicants must be members of the academic staff of UNSW, and on the payroll of UNSW or have been formally appointed to UNSW according to established processes for Conjoint or Clinical appointments for Area Health Services or associated research institutions (refer to the guidelines for more details on eligibility criteria). However, if deemed of strategic value, collaborators external to UNSW can be mentioned in the application, for example under "strategic purpose of request" or "research programs/groups supported".

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Will all Network Labs have to implement a cost recovery mechanism and what does that mean?

Yes, all funded Network Labs are expected to implement a cost recovery mechanism to at least partially recover their operating costs (e.g. visits by the service engineer, spare parts, maintenance, reagents). This might mean charging user fees in the form of hourly instrument charges or subscription fees etc. The PVC (Research Infrastructure) will help with setting up an appropriate mechanism for funded Labs. The intention is to keep cost recovery simple and non-onerous. The mechanism does not have to be fully refined at the application stage - the question on cost recovery mechanism in the application form simply aims to get the conversation started.

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If my application is successful, what is the timeline for raising a Purchase Order? Can the purchase be made this calendar year?

Since awards are announced late-October/Early November 2020, hence there will only be a narrow window between the announcement and the annual shutdown of the finance system. Realistically, it is not likely that a Purchase Order could be raised in 2020. Furthermore, the funds will only be released to successful applicants in January 2021.

Early release of funds may be considered only under certain circumstances. Please contact pvcresin@unsw.edu.au for more information.

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Who should I contact for advice on allocation of space?

Your first point of contact should be your Head of School/Centre and the General Manager or Infrastructure Manager of your faculty. Where new space allocation is involved, be aware that you will also require university-level approval.

All applications will require a site and services checklist to be signed off by the relevant authority in your School/Faculty/Unit: 

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