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 second funding round of the Collaboration and Innovation Fund closed at 6pm (AEST) 19 April 2022. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in June 2022.

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 that harness regional capability and innovation.

The NSW Higher Education Strategy Roundtable held in December 2021 highlighted the importance of innovation, collaboration and connection in regional universities and communities. Applications that include a NSW regional university either as a lead or partner institution will be highly regarded.

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

NSW universities who are members of the NSW Vice Chancellors Committee are eligible lead institutions. Project applications that engage multiple tertiary education, government, non-government or industry partners will be highly regarded.

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. Universities and their partners are 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 2021-22 Financial Year there is approximately $1.5 million available in the Fund.

Key dates

Application timeline:
Activity Date
Applications open 28 February 2022
Applications close 6pm (AEST) 19 April 2022
Applicants notified of outcome June 2022

How to apply

Applicants are required to read the Application Guidelines and Funding Deed, and submit their application form via email to the Higher Education team by 6pm AEST Tuesday 19 April 2022 at

Please include all necessary attachments with your email and clearly state ‘Collaboration and Innovation Fund Application’ in the subject line. Applications must be signed by the project lead and endorsed by senior executive and legal within the administering organisation. Late applications will not be accepted.

If you have any questions about the Collaboration and Innovation Fund, or the application process, please contact

Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible?

NSW universities that are members of the NSW Vice Chancellors' Committee are eligible as lead institutions for project proposals. 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 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 Training for approval.

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

A total of $1.5 million in available for the 2022 round of funding.

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?

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?

No. 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. This provides an opportunity for your legal representative to raise any questions or clarifications well in advance of the deadline for finalising the funding deed.

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”.

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