Maximising the benefits of the bilateral Australia-China Science and Research Fund

Case study from the Australia-China Science and Research Fund.

The Australia-China Science and Research Fund (ACSRF) has provided Professor Selomulya with opportunities to build new collaborations and strengthen existing ones with Chinese researchers and industry.

Professor Cordelia Selomulya is an academic in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University. She is an ARC Future Fellow and the Director of the Australia-China Joint Research Centre in Future Dairy Manufacturing (the Dairy JRC).

What’s changed

The bilaterally funded Australia-China Science and Research Fund (ACSRF) supported by the Australian and Chinese governments has provided Professor Selomulya with opportunities to build new collaborations and strengthen existing ones under two of its components, the Young Scientists Exchange Programme (YSEP) and Joint Research Centres (JRCs).

In 2013 Professor Selomulya travelled to China on a two-week exchange programme with 15 other Australian early-to-mid-career researchers as part of the annual ACSRF YSEP. During the exchange in China, she presented a seminar at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, Soochow University and Nanchang University, and was appointed as an Adjunct Professor of Chemical Engineering  at Soochow.

The link Professor Selomulya made with Soochow University during the YSEP visit allowed her to develop relationships with Chinese industry including Mengniu Dairy and COFCO, one of the largest distribution networks in China. As a result of this link, the Food Innovation Centre at Monash University has signed an MOU with COFCO to help companies in Australia who want to enter the Chinese market. These important industry and research linkages demonstrate how valuable collaboration can be. The linkages Professor Selomulya made with Chinese researchers have allowed the pooling of talent between the Australian and Chinese researchers. Furthermore, the collaboration with industry partners will enable this research to be commercialised.

In 2015, the Australia-China Joint Research Centre in Future Dairy Manufacturing (the Dairy JRC) led by Professor Selomulya and her team from Monash University were successful in their bid for $1 million in funding under the JRC component of the ACSRF.

The Dairy JRC is 12 months into its three-year project and aims to make a significant difference to improve dairy processing quality and capacity that will bring new innovative products to market. It comprises Monash University and Soochow University as the lead Australian and Chinese partners. Other collaborating organisations include Australian partners Fonterra Australia, Gardiner Foundation, Bega Cheese, Food Innovation Centre, The University of Queensland and Devondale Murray Goulburn. The Chinese partners are COFCO and Mengniu Dairy. The Dairy JRC has enabled industry partners and researchers in both countries to meet and collaborate on the commercial outcomes for the Australian companies.

In 2017 the Dairy JRC will host its first joint symposium with Australian and Chinese partners at Monash University. In 2018, the second symposium will be held in China with participation from the Dairy JRC Australian and Chinese researchers and industry partners.

What we did

In 2013 the department funded Professor Selomulya to travel to China on a two-week exchange under the YSEP component of the bilateral ACSRF. Her participation in YSEP allowed further collaboration with Soochow University in China. This collaboration grew in scope and scale and allowed Professor Selomulya to establish a project proposal for the Dairy JRC, under Round 2 of the Joint Research Centre component of the ACSRF.

In 2015, the Dairy JRC was successful in its bid for $1 million in ACSRF funding. Project partner, Soochow University, received a similar amount from the Chinese Government. This bilateral government-to-government funding was a catalyst for further leveraged funds to undertake the project including $2.3 million of Australian cash and in-kind contributions from the research and industry sectors and a similar amount from Chinese partners, bringing the total funding of the project to nearly $8 million.