NHMRC Ideas Grants 2020 Resource Page

National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

The NHMRC’s Ideas Grant scheme aims to support innovative research projects addressing a specific question. The scheme will provide particular opportunities for early and mid-career researchers. It is expected that the CIA will have the scientific leadership and skills to achieve the proposed project aims. 

The expected outcomes are:

  • innovative and creative research
  • funding of researchers at all career stages, and
  • funding any area of health and medical research from discovery to implementation.

The duration of funding is 1 to 5 years. The amount of funding for an Ideas Grant will be based on assessment of the requested budget.

The Ideas Grant scheme is not intended to support research where a clinical trial or cohort study is the primary objective. Applicants seeking funding to conduct a clinical trial or a cohort study should apply, instead, to NHMRC’s Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grant scheme.

Key Dates

Wednesday 5 March 2019 Applications Open
Wednesday 10 April 2019, 5pm (AEST) *Minimum Data Deadline - CIAs must commence an application and complete the RGMS minimum data requirements by 5pm.Applications that do not meet these requirements will not be accepted by the NHMRC.
Wednesday 10 April 2019 Internal Deadline for Compliance Advice (GMO) - Details of your Compliance Advisor will be advised shortly after the internal deadline.
Tuesday 7 May 2019, 9am Final Application to GMO - Completed compliance reviewed application due to the GMO for submission to the NHMRC
Wednesday 8 May 2019, 5pm (AEST) NHMRC Deadline - No application will be accepted by the NHMRC after 5pm under any circumstance.
August - September 2019 Proposed peer review
October/November 2019 Anticipated notification of outcomes 

 *Applications that do not meet the minimum data deadline will not be accepted by the NHMRC

Ideas Grants 2020 Resource Page Contents

  1. Contacts and Support 
  2. Investigator Endorsement Process - CIs and AIs
  3. Ideas Grants Scheme Overview and Documentation 
  4. Minimum Data Requirements 
  5. Eligibility 
  6. Addressing the Assessment Criteria & Grant Proposal Requirement
  7. Grant Budget
  8. Application and Budget Toolkit
  9. Research Grants Management System (RGMS)

1. Contacts and Support 

Strategic Advice (Research Strategy Office | RSO)

The RSO is available for strategic advice on the scope, nature and suitability of any proposed project, how to address the selection criteria including track record, and general grantsmanship advice. Researchers are encouraged to discuss their project with the RSO at the early stages of their application process as fundamental issues are difficult to resolve late in the process. Please send any component of your proposal quoting your application ID for strategic advice, as a Word file, to MedicalGrants.RSO@unsw.edu.au

Compliance & Eligibility Advice (Research Grants and Contracts, Grants Management Office | GMO)

You will be advised on the details of your individual Compliance Advisor shortly after the internal deadline Wednesday 10 April 2019. In the meantime, you can contact your Grants Officer or the GMO on mygrants.gmo@unsw.edu.au when your application is ready to be reviewed for compliance, by completing the following steps; 

  1. Within RGMS, click 'Properties' tab button in the top left side of the screen. Click on the drop down arrow and then click 'Request Latest Snapshot'. Select 'YES' and click on 'SAVE'. Please also ensure that you have uploaded your Grant Proposal document (Part B-PR) to RGMS.
  2. Send an email to mygrants.gmo@unsw.edu.au to advise you are ready for a compliance review and attached a word version of your Grant Proposal.

RAO Access

As you commence your application in RGMS, you will be given the option to grant Research Administration Office (RAO) Edit Access. This allows your Compliance Advisor at the Grants Management Office to generate new snapshots of your application for compliance review whenever required. It is strongly recommended that you grant RAO edit access as this greatly assists us in working with you to refine the application.
How do I grant RAO Edit Access?
To grant access you must do so at the time you commence your application as you will not be able to do so afterwards. After you select ‘University of New South Wales’ as the Administering Institution, select ‘yes’ for RAO Edit Access.

2. Investigator Endorsement Process - CIs and AIs

UNSW requires the CIA to provide the GMO with written endorsement from all CIs and AIs named on an Ideas Grants 2020 application prior to submission. This is a mandatory requirement the NHMRC prior to submission of an application.

To obtain endorsement: 

  1. Download the Investigator Endorsement Email template
  2. Insert your name and the Application ID in the highlighted sections.
  3. Copy and paste the text into an email and send to the CIs and AIs Listed in your application.
  4. Once all endorsement emails are received, combine into a single email or PDF and email to your Compliance Officer or mygrants.gmo@unsw.edu.au  
3. Minimum Data Requirements

For each application, Minimum data is a compulsory requirement. CIAs  for this schemes will need to have commenced an application in RGMS and completed the below sections of the application by 5pm AEST Wednesday 10 April 2019 in RGMS

Applications that do not meet the minimum data deadline will not be accepted by the NHMRC.

Minimum data requirements for Ideas Grants comprise of:

  • Chief Investigator A
  • General
    • Administering Institution
    • Application Title
    • Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Research (yes/no)
    • Synopsis
    • Plain English Summary
    • Privacy Consent - Int'l
  • Part A-PInst: Participating Institution/s
  • Part A-RC: Research Classification (all fields)

Using placeholder text such as “text”, “synopsis” or “xx” etc. are not acceptable as minimum data.

4. Ideas Grants Scheme Overview and Documentation

NHMRC Scheme overview webpage

NHMRC Documentation


NHMRC strategic priorities, Ideas Grants 2019 priorities and funding organisations

  • NHMRC strategic priorities

Each year, NHMRC identifies strategic priorities for funding. NHMRC’s current research strategic priorities are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research and researchers
  • health services research, and
  • gender equality.
  • Ideas Grants funded by other organisations

Ideas Grants may be funded by or in conjunction with other organisations. These grants offer opportunities to researchers whose work is particularly relevant to the priorities and research interests of the partner organisations.
The following organisations may partner NHMRC in funding grants under this grant opportunity:

  • Cancer Councils
  • Cancer Australia & Funding Partners, and
  • Department of Health (MRFF).

See Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS) Resource page here

  • Idea Grants 2019 priority areas

In addition to the NHMRC key priorities, NHMRC may award Ideas Grants that;

  • address other defined structural priorities 
  • acknowledge prominent Australia's contribution to health and medical research (Special Awards), and 
  • are funded with partner organisations

Note: Special Awards have not been identified for this grant.


5. Eligibility

As part of the new grant program the NHMRC has developed an eligibility tool for the 2019 Funding round. The tool is designed to assist researchers in determining their eligibility for funding in the first round of new grant program. The tool can also be used for researchers thinking of submitting an application in 2019.

4.1 Chief Investigators and Associate Investigators
The maximum number of Chief Investigators (CIs) allowed on an Ideas Grant application is 10 (CIA- CIJ)
Chief Investigator ‘A’ (CIA)
At the time of acceptance and for the duration of a grant the CIA must be an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or a permanent resident of Australia or have an appropriate work visa in place. The CIA must also be based in Australia for at least 80% of the Funding Period.
Associate Investigators
An Associate Investigator (AI) is defined as an investigator who provides some intellectual and/or practical input into the research and whose participation may warrant inclusion of their name on any outputs (e.g. publications).
There is no restriction on who and the number of times a researcher can be named as an AI. However, a maximum number of 10 AIs may be listed on an application.

4.2 Multiple applications/grants
Limits apply to the number of NHMRC grants that a CI may concurrently hold and/or apply for.
Eligibility to apply for, and hold, an Ideas Grant is linked to numbers of grants applied for or held from the Investigator and Synergy Grant schemes, as well as other NHMRC grants held.
CIs may submit a total of two applications across the Investigator, Synergy and Ideas Grant schemes in any given funding round. See specific rules relating to Investigator and Synergy Grant schemes.
CIs may hold a maximum of two grants concurrently from the Investigator, Synergy and Ideas Grant schemes, with the following exceptions:

  • CIs who hold two Ideas Grants can hold a Synergy Grant, and
  • CIs who hold two Ideas Grants can apply for and hold an Investigator Grant.

Detailed information on how eligibility for Ideas Grants is affected by a CI’s grant applications and/or currently held grants is available at Appendix B (eligibility for 2019 funding round) and the NHMRC web eligibility tool for the new grant program.

4.2.1 Limits on the number of Ideas Grant applications
CIs may submit a maximum of two Ideas Grant applications in a grant opportunity subject to other NHMRC grants concurrently held or applied.
If any CI (CIA-CIJ) on a given Ideas Grant application submits an Ideas, Investigator or Synergy Grant application(s) in excess of the maximum for which they are eligible to apply, all Investigator, Synergy or Ideas Grant applications on which that CI is named may be ineligible and excluded from consideration, irrespective of:

  • the scheme to which they have applied, and
  • that CI’s role or position on the application.

Subject to other eligibility requirements, a CI may only concurrently apply for an Ideas Grant and an Investigator Grant if at the time of application:

  • the CI does not currently hold an Investigator Grant, or
  • the CI is in the final year of their Investigator Grant.

If both the Ideas and Investigator Grant applications are successful, only the Investigator Grant will be offered. As a consequence, the Ideas Grant will not be eligible for funding. Refer to Appendix B (eligibility for 2019 funding round) and the NHMRC web eligibility tool for the new grant program
Note: Applications only seeking funding from Cancer Council and/or Cancer Australia are not capped by NHMRC.

4.2.2 Limits on the number of Ideas Grants that may be held
CIs may hold no more than two Ideas Grants concurrently, subject to other NHMRC grants held or concurrently applied for.
The number of Ideas Grants that may be held by a given CI may be less than two, for example if the CI holds two or more NHMRC Project Grants (refer to Appendix B).

4.3 Clinical trial or cohort study applications
An application may be excluded from consideration where NHMRC considers the primary objective to be a clinical trial or cohort study. An application should not be submitted to the Ideas Grant scheme where it meets the objectives and desired outcomes for NHMRC’s Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies scheme (see the Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies 2019 Grant Guidelines).

6. Addressing the Assessment Criteria and Grant Proposal Requirements

Applicants must use this Ideas Grants proposal template 2019

Applications for Ideas Grants 2019 will be assessed by peer reviewers against the four assessment criteria detailed in the category descriptors (See appendix A of the Ideas Grants Guidelines 2019 )

  • Research Quality (35%)
  • Innovation and Creativity (25%)
  • Significance (20%)
  • Feasibility (20%)

Table 1: Formatting Requirements 



File Format

Grant proposals must be saved & uploaded into RGMS as a PDF file

File size

The PDF file MUST NOT exceed 2MB in size

File name

The PDF file must be named using the following: APP ID_Applicant's Surname_Document Type/Name.pdf e.g: APP1234567_Smith_Grant Proposal

Page size



Application ID and Applicant surname must be included in the header


Page number must be included in the footer


NHMRC recommends a minimum of a 12 point Times New Roman font.

Line Spacing





Table 2: Grants proposal details components

Grant Proposal Sections

Page limit

A. Research Proposal

7 pages




Describe the specific aims of the research plan, including a clear statement of hypotheses to be tested.
Background Provide a rationale for the research and refer to preliminary data, where relevant. It is anticipated that, in some instances, preliminary data may not be available to support innovative ideas, technologies and points of view that differ substantially from current
thinking or practice.
Research Plan - methods and techniques to be used Outline the research plan in detail, including the following where appropriate:

  • detailed description of the experimental design
  • details and justification of controls
  • details for appropriate blinding
  • strategies for randomisation and/or stratification
  • justification of sample-size, including power calculation
  • justification of statistical methods
  • strategies to ensure that the experimental results will be robust, unbiased and reproducible
  • details to achieve balance of male and female cell and animal models, including justification where it is not warranted
  • any ethical considerations
  • community involvement and/or plans to transfer knowledge to stakeholders or into practice.
  • strengths and weaknesses of the study design and approach
Identified Risks Describe the scientific and/or technical risks associated with the research plan and how these will be managed. Include details of how Associate Investigators (AIs) may help to mitigate or control any risk.
Timeline Provide a detailed timeline for the research plan along with justification for the duration of the grant being requested.

B. References

The references section must:

  • contain a list of all references cited in the research proposal in an appropriate standard journal format. NHMRC prefers the Author-date (also known as the Harvard System), Documentary-note and the Vancouver Systems
  • list authors in the order in which they appear in PubMed
  • only include references to cited work
  • be written in English.
2 pages

C. Innovation and Creativity statement

NHMRC defines ‘Innovation and Creativity’ for the Ideas Grant scheme as health and medical research that seeks to challenge and shift current paradigms and/or have a major impact on a health research area through one or more studies that creatively:

  • develop or use novel research concepts, approaches, methodologies, technologies or interventions
  • propose a reinterpretation, refinement, improvement or new application of existing theoretical concepts, approaches, methodologies, technologies or interventions, or
  • integrate and adapt concepts, approaches, methodologies, technologies or interventions from other research fields or disciplines for a new purpose or in a new way.

Applicants should address the Innovation and Creativity assessment criterion in this statement (see Appendix D), noting that assessment of this criterion may require supporting or background information provided in other sections of the grant proposal. Applicants should avoid duplicating information provided in other sections of the grant proposal

1 page

D. Significance statement

NHMRC defines ‘Significance’ for the Ideas Grant scheme as the extent to which the outcomes and outputs will result in advancements to the research or health area. Significance in this context does not refer to the prevalence of disease or magnitude of the issue.

Applicants should address the Significance assessment criterion in this statement (see Attachment A), noting that assessment of this criterion may require supporting or background information provided in other sections of the grant proposal. Applicants should avoid duplicating information provided in other sections of the grant proposal.

1 page 

E. Feasibility statement

NHMRC defines ‘Feasibility’ for the Ideas Grant scheme as the appropriateness of the applicant team and their expertise, the resources and access to additional personnel necessary for the project. There is no assessment of an individual CI’s or AI’s track record in the Ideas Grant scheme.

Applicants should address the Feasibility assessment criterion in this statement (see the Category Descriptors), noting that assessment of this criterion may require supporting or background information provided in other sections of the grant proposal. Applicants should avoid duplicating information provided in other sections of the grant proposal.

1 page

F. Indigenous Research Excellence Criteria (if applicable)

If at least 20% of the research effort relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, the application will also be assessed against the NHMRC Indigenous Research Excellence Criteria:
•    Community engagement
•    Benefit
•    Sustainability and transferability
•    Building capability

These criteria are set out in section 6.1 of the Ideas Grants 2019 Guidelines. Applicants should ensure that they address each Indigenous Research Excellence Criterion and demonstrate what proportion of the research effort will be directed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

2 pages

G. Priority Driven Cancer Australia Early Career Researcher (if applicable)

Grants awarded through the PdCCRS are designed principally to support applied cancer research projects that relate to the research priority area/s of the Cancer Australia and/or its funding partners and which have the potential to directly improve cancer outcomes by influencing clinical practice and/or policy.

Applicants who are applying for NHMRC funding and also seeking PdCCRS funding for the same project (where the NHMRC application is beyond the timeframe and budget that can be provided through PdCCRS) must provide a one page modified research proposal with reduced aims and timeframes.
The following should be included in the modified proposal.
This proposal is to be considered for funding from NHMRC and PdCCRS. Funding from NHMRC is sought for a project addressing the following aims:

  • Aim 1
  • Aim 2
  • Aim 3 etc.

Funding from the PdCCRS is alternatively sought for the same project modified to one/two year/s. In the one/two year/s timeframe the project will only address the following aim/s:

  • Aim 1
  • Aim 2 etc.

Applications that do not comply with the above guidelines may be deemed ineligible and excluded from further consideration.

1 page


7. Grant Budget

5. What the grant money can be used for

5.1 Eligible grant activities and expenditure

Funding provided by NHMRC for a Research Activity must be spent on costs directly incurred in relation to that Research Activity. Further guidance on the expenditure of funding for a Research Activity is provided in the Direct Research Cost Guidelines on the NHMRC website.

5.1.1 Salary Support 

Requested salaries (if any) must be based on Personnel Support Packages (PSPs). Individuals are not able to draw a salary from any Ideas Grants on which they are a named as an Associate Investigator. See below Budget Resources - Writing an Effective PSP Justification

5.3 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 or Department of Health) and published research. NHMRC will not fund research that it considers duplicates research previously or currently being funded.

Where NHMRC believes that an applicant has submitted similar research proposals to NHMRC and has been successful with more than one application, the applicant may be required to provide NHMRC with a written report clearly identifying the difference between the research aims of the research activities. If NHMRC subsequently does not consider the research activities to be sufficiently different, the applicant will be required to decline or relinquish one of the grants.

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. See NHMRC’s Privacy Policy and the Privacy: confidentiality and protection of personal information section of these guidelines for further information.

8. Application Toolkit Budget Information and Resources

You will be required to use your UNSW zID and password to access these documents;

  • Salary Scales for Grant Budgeting - Details of UNSW Salary Scales. Use these worksheets to budget academic, professional and casual salaries with appropriate on-costs for 2020.
  • Writing an Effective Personnel Support Package Justification - Advice on writing and effective PSP justification.
  • The UNSW Business Expense Procedure can act as a guide for sourcing travel rates and indicate the maximum amount permitted. You should only request what you know you need. All requested expenditure must me necessary, reasonable, appropriate and allowable. 
  • UNSW preferred Travel agents: Voyager, STA, Campus and Anywhere Travel. Travel booked via UNSW preferred suppliers are automatically loaded into MyTrips.
  • Commercial airlines / travel sites / other travel agents: Travellers my book directly with airlines or through other travel sites e.g. qantas.com.au or webjet.com.au. If travel is booked through these sites, then you must record your travel details in MyTrips as the University is required to maintain a record of where travellers are at any time.

Research Facilities 

Applicants often need to receive services from research facilities to enable their research to be successfully undertaken. Such Facilities include but are not limited to: biospecimens and associated data from biobanks or pathology services, non-human primate colonies, the Australian Twin Registry, Cell Bank Australia, and the Trans-Tasman Radio Oncology Group. Applicants will need to consult with research facilities to ensure that the services they require can be provided and that the charges included in the budget are accurately reflected. Letters from research facilities confirming their collaboration must be submitted with the application.

  • Mark Wainwright Analytics Centre - The Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre (MWAC) is part of the Division of Research.  We manage major instrumentation used by researchers for the study of the structure and composition of biological, chemical and physical materials.  Our facilities are housed in custom-built laboratories; mainly in the Lowy, Wallace Wurth and Chemical Sciences buildings. The Centre's major Research Facilities are accessible to all staff and students of UNSW, as well as to external researchers. Government and industry users are also welcome. Staff of the Centre provide research collaboration, technical support, education and training to researchers accessing the facilities.
  • See Major Units and Facilities
  • UNSW Stats Central is available to provide a free statistical review of 2019 grant proposals. All applicants are strongly advised to make use of this service. Stats Central  is UNSW’s statistical consulting and collaboration unit, a Strategy 2025 initiative based in the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre. The unit offers free study design advice to UNSW researchers, and applications are allocated to a suitable reviewer by Dr Nancy Briggs. It is advised that you consult with a statistician as early as possible when preparing design/analysis aspects of your grant proposal, ideally before you start writing it. Before submitting for review, you can also consult checklists which provide guidelines on statistical design and presentation of research data for publication, for example:

  • Research Technology Services - Data Management - It is important for you to maintain good data management records and practices with considerations about proper data storage, access, retention and reuse. Having good data management records and practices allows you to uphold the quality and integrity of your data, which contributes to maximising the impact of your research. The ResData system allows you to create an Research Data Management Plan (RDMP) to capture project details, data classification, IP and copyright, arrangements including but not limited to data storage, access and re-use. Creating an RDMP on the ResData system also allows you to provision storage on the Data Archive, a secure, long-term data storage solution for UNSW researchers. You are strongly encouraged to start an RDMP on the ResData system at the beginning of your project, and continue to keep it up-to-date until the end of your project.

Additional resources can be found on the Grant Application resource page 

9. Research Grants Management System (RGMS)

RGMS is a web-based system used to prepare and submit research applications and assessments for all NHMRC Grants.

RGMS is a program and portfolio management system that enables you to apply for, track and administer NHMRC grants online, as well as participate in peer review. Researchers can also maintain a profile and curriculum vitae, which is used for application and other administrative purposes.

To progress this commitment and address the ageing technology of the current Research Grants Management System (RGMS), NHMRC is in the process of developing a new grants management solution, Sapphire, for supporting research excellence, implementation of Sapphire is to be advise. Find out more

RGMS Support

  • New RGMS accounts can be requested by accessing the RGMS login page. Select the ’New to RGMS? Submit a new user request here' link and follow the prompts on-screen.
  • Access the NHMRC RGMS Access instructions and Resources Support Page for training tutorials, offline forms and other helpful appendices and NHMRC Information page
  • The NHMRC Character Counting Tool can assist with checking your various sections are within the limits prior pasting into the RGMS fields within your application. There are several sections of your Ideas Grant proposals where a character limit is enforced. The NHMRC Character Counting Tool can assist with checking that sections of your proposal adhere to these limits prior to inserting text into the RGMS field. This is particularly useful because many conventional programs (e.g MS Word, Adobe PDF) use a different character counting method to RGMS.

Research Administration Organisation (RAO) Edit Access

What is RAO Edit Access?

As you commence your application in RGMS, you will be given the option to grant Research Administration Office (RAO) Edit Access. This allows your Compliance Advisor at the Grants Management Office to generate new snapshots of your application for compliance review whenever required. It is strongly recommended that you grant RAO edit access as this greatly assists us in working with you to refine the application.

How do I grant RAO Edit Access?

It is recommended you grant access  at the time you commence your application. After you select ‘University of New South Wales’ as the Administering Institution, select ‘yes’ for RAO Edit Access.

Can I grant edit access to other members of my project team?

No. The lead investigator (CIA) is responsible for creating, requesting snapshots and submitting an application, including certification. Other members of the research team can only views the application and latest snapshots, but cannot edit it.