Collaborative Research Networks (CRN)


The Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) programme is intended to effect structural adjustment in the research and research training capacity of smaller, regional and less research intensive universities in the higher education system.

The CRN programme was announced in the 2009-10 Budget. In May 2011, $61.5 million was announced by the Australian government to establish twelve CRN projects. An additional $19.6 million for three more projects was announced in July 2012, bringing the total funding to $81.1 million for fifteen CRN projects.

CRN is designed to develop the research capacity of smaller, less research-intensive and regional higher education institutions. It encourages these institutions to adapt to a research system driven by performance outcomes by teaming up with other institutions in areas of common interest. All participants in a collaborative network will benefit from partnerships, with flow-on effects for the research and innovation system as a whole.

Guidelines for the CRN programme

The CRN guidelines set out the eligibility requirements, application process, evaluation criteria and selection mechanism for the CRN program.

For further information about the programme email:


The objectives of the CRN programme are to:

  • help smaller and less research-intensive universities adapt to a research system driven by performance outcomes
  • facilitate collaboration between these universities and larger universities with established research strengths
  • encourage less research-intensive, smaller and regional universities to focus their research activities in areas of excellence
  • improve the level of collaboration between different parts of the innovation system, and in particular between universities, and
  • address wider national research and innovation goals.

Mid-Term Programme Evaluation

In 2014-15 a mid-term programme evaluation was undertaken by consultants to assess the effectiveness, efficiency and strategic policy alignment of the CRN programme. The mid-term evaluation found the CRN programme has generally met its short term objectives: to improve the research capacity of smaller and regional universities by building greater collaboration with larger more research intensive universities.

The Mid-Term Programme Evaluation report found the CRN programme has been successful in:

  • encouraging a more strategic focus on developing research strengths amongst project lead universities
  • supporting the development of research partnerships, both national and international
  • generating a range of institutional reforms, including:
    • improved governance structures (greater integration of research and administration processes and business planning)
    • research skills training and mentoring of junior researchers
    • multidisciplinary approaches to research
    • career pathways for researchers
    • new business models and products (for example in health, agriculture and resource management) and services (for example, research skills training courses).

    Contact us

    For further information about the CRN program, email: