New CRCs to drive low carbon tech, bioproducts, digital economy

The federal government has announced $158 million in funding for three new Cooperative Research Centres under the latest grants round of the CRC Program. 

Jane O’Dwyer

The funding will establish the Heavy Industry Low Carbon Transition (HILT) and Marine Bioproducts CRCs in South Australia, and the NSW-based Digital Finance CRC.

CEO of The CRC Association Jane O’Dwyer says the grants will help Australia transition to a low carbon future, foster new marine bioproducts industries and digitally transform financial markets.

“They will supercharge Australian innovation and create new opportunities and jobs for Australians,” she said.  

Keeping heavy industry sustainable

The HILT CRC, with $39 million in government funding, will focus on integrating green energy sources such as hydrogen, ammonia and solar into high-emissions manufacturing processes for products like steel, aluminium, and cement. 

Making the announcement last Wednesday, Science and Technology minister Christian Porter said the HILT CRC would secure the future of Australia’s heavy industries.

“In order to remain internationally competitive, it is crucial that our heavy industries begin the transition to lower cost and cleaner energy technology to secure the long-term future of their operations,” he said.

Almost 50 partner organisations are involved in the HILT CRC, including Alcoa, Boral, OneSteel Manufacturing, Rio Tinto Aluminium, South32, the ANU and the CSIRO.

Phil Hodgson

Phil Hodgson is managing director of one the partners, Calix.

He says the partnership will enable the company to work on its technologies for reducing carbon emissions in the production of cement and lime.

“It’s a chance for us to demonstrate the technology developed for CO2 mitigation in the production of cement and lime through our European … projects in an Australian setting, as well as explore other more sustainable applications for our technology in heavy industry,” said.

.The HILT CRC will be headquartered in Adelaide and will establish hubs in heavy industry regions of Gladstone, the Pilbara, Northern Tasmania, SA’s Upper Spencer Gulf, WA’s Kwinana and South West regions, the Southern Highlands of NSW and Portland in Victoria.


Thte Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre (MB-CRC) in Adelaide, led by Flinders University, is the recipient of a $59 million grant.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham says the demand for sustainable marine products like bioplastics is increasing domestically and oversea, and the sector has enormous potential for growth.

The bioproducts sector also includes manufacturers of omega-3 oils, cosmetics, agrochemicals and plastics made from seaweeds, algae and other marine life.

“Investing in cleaner technology will play a critical part in helping Australia to meet and beat our emissions reductions targets, without damaging our existing industries, and while also helping to build new industries for our future,” he said.

Digitised economy

The Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre, meanwhile, will be headquartered in NSW and receive $60 million in federal funding. 

It brings together a collaboration of fintech, industry, research, and regulatory stakeholders aimed at increasing competitiveness in digital finance.

CEO designate of the DFCRC Andreas Furche says the funding will help lead to the full digitisation of Australia’s economyand assets.

“This will have a profound impact on the rate of achievable economic growth and pave the way for new types of investable assets and whole new markets,” he said.

Since the CRC Program commenced in 1991, more than $5.2 billion has been provided in ten-year CRC Grants and three-year CRC Proect grants.

Applicants must at least match the amount of grant funding received through cash and/or in-kind contributions.

Round 23 of the grants program is currently open.

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