Collaboration and Innovation Fund

The Collaboration and Innovation Fund aims to enhance collaboration between universities and the NSW Government to address social, economic and environmental challenges. The fund provides grants to support university projects, programs and initiatives that address priority goals of the NSW Higher Education Strategy.

Applications for the first funding round of the Collaboration and Innovation Fund have now closed. This website will be updated with information on successful projects and future funding rounds.

Under the Collaboration and Innovation Fund, the Department seeks project proposals that align with the outcomes of the NSW Higher Education Strategy, and which benefit or support education and skills outcomes in NSW.

Applications will be assessed on their ability to meet selection criteria including:

  • Clear articulation of alignment with NSW Higher Education Strategy
  • Clear articulation of alignment with NSW Department of Education outcomes and targets
  • Demonstration of clear evidence base and/ or innovative approach of the project
  • Level of collaboration with other tertiary education, government or industry partners
  • Level of co-investment by the project partner/s
  • Demonstrated executive endorsement of the project from the lead institution
  • Demonstration of financial sustainability of the project

Applications are sought from NSW public universities. Project applications that engage multiple tertiary education, government, non-government or industry partners are strongly encouraged.

Applications for the first funding round closed at 6pm on 29 April 2021.

For more detailed information, please see the Application Guidelines.

Grant description

The NSW Collaboration and Innovation Fund provides seed funding or co-investment to support projects that align with the NSW Higher Education Strategy, with universities and their partners expected to provide additional financial or in-kind support for the project. Universities are invited to apply for a grant of up to $200,000 for individual projects, or up to $500,000 where the project involves multiple tertiary education, government, non-government or industry partners.

The Fund will operate throughout the life of the NSW Higher Education Strategy, with this page updated when new funding rounds become available. In the 2020-21 Financial Year there is approximately $1 million available in the Fund.

Key dates

Application timeline:
Activity Date
Applications open 6 April 2021
Applications closed 6pm (AEST) 29 April 2021
Applicants notified of outcome May 2021


How to apply

The Collaboration and Innovation Fund is not currently open for applications.

If you have any questions please contact higher.education@det.nsw.edu.au.

Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible?

NSW public universities that are members of the NSW Vice Chancellors' Committee. This includes:

  • Australian Catholic University
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Macquarie University
  • Southern Cross University
  • University of Newcastle
  • University of New England
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of Wollongong
  • Western Sydney University

Other universities or higher education providers may partner with a NSW public university as part of a collaborative project.

Who is the decision-maker for applications?

An independent panel from the NSW Department of Education will assess and rank grant applications according to the fund’s eligibility and selection criteria. The panel will recommend shortlisted projects to the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education for approval.

What is the total quantum of the Collaboration and Innovation Fund?

In the 2020-21 Financial Year there is approximately $1 million available in the Fund. However, expenditure will depend on the number of high quality applications received.

The Fund will continue to operate during the life of the NSW Higher Education Strategy, with new funding rounds becoming available throughout this time. The total amount for future rounds will be confirmed once our internal budgetary processes have been completed. As a guide, it is anticipated future funding rounds will be for similar amounts.

Please check this webpage for current information on available funding.

Over what period of time will grant funding be able to be expended?

All grant funding must be expended within the life of the NSW Higher Education Strategy (by the end of the 2025 calendar year). Individual projects may have different deadlines for the expenditure of grant funding. When a project is approved, a project plan will be confirmed in its Funding Deed.

Is there a requirement or an expectation for universities to only submit one application?

Due to the limited funding amount and timeframe for this round of funding, individual universities are encouraged to submit one high quality application where they are the lead institution. However, universities may be included as partners in multiple applications led by other universities.

Is marking relief/teaching buyout (for academic personnel) an approved budget item?

Yes. Please provide information to justify the item in the Budget section of the Application Form.

Salaried academic staff members' commitment to the project should be expressed as cash (for teaching relief/buyout), or in-kind, or a combination of both.

Can indirect costs be included in the budget request?

Only direct costs should be included in the project budget, to be funded by grant money. Indirect costs (sometimes referred to as administrative overheads) should not be included in the project budget and are expected to be in-kind contributions by the administering organisation.

Why does the application have to be 'endorsed' by a legal representative? What does that mean?

Your legal representative must acknowledge that they have reviewed the standard funding deed template attachment. We note that a successful application would require the university to sign the deed within a short timeframe.

This acknowledgement is not intended to be an endorsement of the content of your project, which will be provided by another senior university representative (eg. Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor) instead when they sign your Application Form.

Your legal representative may prefer to amend the wording in the Application Form to “we acknowledge” or “we note”.

We will make this clearer in the documentation for future funding rounds.

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