UNSW-Chinese Academy of Sciences Collaborative Research Seed Grants

Division of Research


In order to strengthen research collaboration and deepen relationships with top tier partners in the Asia Pacific Region and globally, UNSW has established a bilateral research seed grant program with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). 

CAS is China’s primary academic and R&D institution in the natural sciences, and the largest scientific and research organisation in the world. CAS comprises 104 research institutes, 12 branch academies, three universities and 11 supporting organizations. These institutions are home to more than 100 national key labs and engineering centres as well as nearly 200 CAS key labs and engineering centres. 


1. Purpose

The UNSW-CAS Collaborative Research Seed Fund Program will provide seed grants for mobility and projects to identify, promote and encourage opportunities for collaborative research and development in areas of common interest between UNSW & CAS researchers within the theme areas specified below.

The purpose of the program is to establish or further advance joint research collaboration leading to a long term sustainable collaboration beyond the scope of the seed funding activities.

2. Expected Outcomes

  • Development of a long term partnership with CAS researchers that attracts external funding beyond the duration and scope of the seed grant
  • Joint UNSW-CAS publications in high ranked journals
  • The submission of a joint application for external funding from funding bodies / industry partners in either China and Australia within one year of the completion of the Project Grant or earlier if possible

3. Funding

There will be two tiers of funding available:

  1. Mobility Grants - enabling travel/short visits between UNSW and CAS researchers. There will be 10 grants of AU$5,000 awarded for a duration of 12 months.
  2. Bridging Grants - project related grant for researchers to explore concepts and ideas through small scale, collaborative research projects. There will be 5 grants of up to AU$50,000 awarded for a duration of 24 months.

NB. Each institution will provide funds to its own researchers i.e. UNSW will award a grant (Mobility - AU$5,000, Bridging - AU$50,000) to the UNSW lead investigator and CAS will award a grant (Mobility - equivalent to AU$5,000, Bridging - equivalent to $AU50,000 to the CAS lead investigator).

4. Theme Areas


The mobility and bridging grants must be in one of the following areas:


  • Neuroscience (including research projects in:  Addiction; Biomedical Engineering / Basic Neuroscience; Ageing & Cognitive Impairment)
  • Nanotechnology (including research projects in: Nanomedicine & Nanodiagnostics; Nanotechnology Applications in Water;  Nanotechnology Applications in Energy)

5. Eligibility requirements


  • UNSW: Grants are open to salaried academic staff levels B-D at UNSW
    (NB. Staff at Professorial level E are not eligible to apply as the lead UNSW CI, but may be listed as a mentor on the grant.)
  • CAS: Grants are open to all salaried academic staff at any CAS Institution or a CAS University
  • Only joint applications will be considered (i.e. Identical application needs to be submitted to both UNSW and to CAS )

5.1. Eligible items for funding


      5.1.2 Mobility Grants

  • International travel costs of researchers and/or research students associated with the project for the purposes of exchange between the collaborating partners.
  • Each visit should be of no more than 2 weeks duration.

     5.1.3 Bridging Grants

  • As above for Mobility Grants; and
  • Direct research costs associated with the project

       (Note: Research Assistant/Technicians personnel salary costs are eligible to be included for UNSW budgets only – capped at 25% of
       the budget, however salaries for CIs or other salaried academics are not eligible items for funding)


5.2. Items not eligible for funding (Mobility and Bridging Grants)

  • Salaries for CIs or other salaried academics (Note: RA/Technician salary costs are not eligible for the Mobility Grants)
  • Scholarships or top-ups for research students
  • Conference registration fees

6. Application process

The lead investigator from UNSW and the lead investigator from CAS need to work together to prepare a joint application using the guidelines and application form provided and submit by the due date. Applications will be assessed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), UNSW and the Vice President of CAS.

6.1. Selection criteria

  1. Quality, expected outcomes and impact of proposed research collaboration
  2. Strength of research team relative to opportunity
  3. Alignment of proposal with purpose and expected outcomes of the fund
  4. Strength of previous / existing collaborative activities/engagement or benefits of establishing new relationship
  5. Appropriateness of budget 
  6. Desirable – Engagement and commitment from an Industry partner 

Note: Industry engagement is not required but applications involving a third party Industry partner will strengthen the proposal and be assessed favourably. 

6.2. Key Dates

Applications:  Now closed.
Announcements of results: Applicants will be notified of the outcomes in September 2019 

6.3 Submission

  • Joint applications from UNSW and CAS investigators need to be submitted to both UNSW and CAS as outlined below to be eligible for consideration  
  • The application must be identical, one being a copy of the other and completed in English;
  • Applications will only be accepted as a single PDF, please combine all documents (application form, project proposal, CVs, letters of support) into a single pdf.
  • UNSW Lead Investigator: submit pdf via email to: internationalresearch@unsw.edu.au
  • CAS Lead Investigator: submit pdf via ARP system 



1. How much detail should I include in the application regarding the exchange activities?

Exchange activities are a key element of the scheme. Therefore we advise that in your Project Proposal you provide information detailing all planned exchange trips, relevant investigators on each trip and activities to be undertaken in each country.

2. Can I be the lead investigator on one bridging grant application and 'other investigator' on another bridging grant application?

Yes, you can be lead investigator on one bridging grant application and 'other investigator' on another bridging grant application as long as they are for different projects. NB – ‘other investigators’ are only permitted for bridging grants. 


3. Can I be the lead investigator on two separate applications?

  • You cannot be a lead investigator on two separate applications (ie one mobility and one bridging grant, or two bridging grants, or two mobility grants).
  • However, you can be a lead investigator on one bridging grant application and an ‘other investigator’ on another bridging grant application (as long as they are for different projects) and both applications may be successful.

4. I am a PhD student - can I apply?

As noted in the guidelines, only UNSW academic staff levels B-D are eligible to apply for the grants, so PhD students would not be eligible to apply for the mobility or bridging grants. 

However, for the Bridging Grants, a PhD student could be listed on the application as an ‘other named investigator’, so you may wish to explore with your supervisor whether they would be interested in applying for a Bridging Grant as a lead investigator.

5. Are there any exceptions to the academic staff level B-D eligibility requirements?

For this scheme it is only possible for Level B-D academics to apply as Lead Investigators and there are no exceptions to this requirement. 

However it should be noted that for Bridging Grants academic staff Level A appointments may be listed as ‘other named investigator’, and Level E professorial appointments may be listed as 'other named investigator' and mentor.

6. For Bridging Grants can I add more rows for additional 'other named investigators'?

Yes you are welcome to add rows for additional ‘other named investigators’ to the table on page 1 of the application form.