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Decarbonisation Innovation Hub

Information Session Q&A

Hub and Network Structure

Is the Hub limited to the three Networks mentioned or can it be extended?

At this stage it is proposed to establish the Hub initially with three Networks. The current Networks have been decided based on some potential industry sectors of relevance. Table 4 in the Decarbonisation Innovation Hub Supporting Paper provides some examples of the industries and technologies the Networks may wish to progress. As the Hub matures, the Networks may evolve. This would be informed by the two-yearly decarbonisation reports of the Chief Scientist & Engineer.

Is there a preference for a single Hub host or co-hosts with a focus on a particular stream?

The preference is for co-hosts rather than a single Hub host. This is due to the fact that it will likely be too much work for one organisation to manage the Hub and three Networks. It may be the case that there is a lead organisation but the decision-making is across all the co-host organisations. The co-hosting approach is also in line with principle of collaboration for the hub.

Will Network leads or members be expected to align themselves with a potential Hub host or will this process be facilitated following the Expression of Interest (EOI)? 

You can work with whomever you like. We hope that by sharing the EOI information prior to the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, interested parties will communicate and organise amongst themselves.

Can regional organisations be Hub or Network leads?

Regional organisations as Hub leads or co-leads would be very welcome in proposals. The Network topics have strong regional relevance.

Hub and Network Scope

Is a particular set of outcomes being targeted?

The Hub outcomes are not prescribed but they need to consider the Decarbonisation Innovation Hub’s vision, guiding principles and objectives (these are outlined in the Decarbonisation Innovation Hub Information Paper). The outcomes of the Hub will need to be defined during the development of the Business Plan in consultation with OCSE and will need to be based on the proposal of the preferred Hub host(s).

The Networks don’t directly mention the built environment and infrastructure. Indirectly the Networks would impact via decarbonisation of energy sources to buildings and decarbonising transport fuels, is that correct?

That is correct. The Decarbonisation Innovation Hub Supporting Paper provides further information. A number of use cases cut across combinations of two or three networks, so the collaborative projects between networks could emerge.

There seems to be crossover in the Networks: does the Land & Primary Industries include renewables and biofuels, or do they fit into the other Networks?

We expect that by having the Networks sitting below the single Hub there will be clear communication and coordination between them. For example, biofuels would sit between the Land & Primary Industries and Power Fuels including Hydrogen Networks. Synergies between Networks in these areas are expected to be promoted and joint projects to emerge. The Decarbonisation Innovation Hub Supporting Paper provides further information.

Decarbonising (linear) infrastructure is a complex objective that probably cuts through the three proposed Networks. Would you consider ‘transversal’ initiatives within the Hub at large? 

Yes, where projects cover multiple topic areas, OCSE would consider working across all three Networks.

Budget and Funding Model

What will the NSW Government funding pay for (i.e. projects, the Hub lead)?

The NSW Government funding can be used for administrative costs of the Hub (e.g. staff, events) as well as for project costs. NSW Government funding should not be used solely for administrative costs. There is an expectation that the hosts would make a co-contribution to the administrative costs of the Hub (e.g. cash or in-kind salaries, facilities, establishment support etc.).

Will the Hub receive funding from other government and industry sources, and how much approximately is the average budget planning for the Hub? Will industry need to contribute match funding? 

The budget is $15 million over 10 years. We will look to the parent organisations of the Hub hosts and Network leads to provide some funding, and for the membership base to contribute a membership fee. It is up to the proponent to put forward an approach to the fee and membership structure; this would be further developed through the business plan process. The existing Networks established by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer (OCSE) attract other funding, so it would be expected that base funding of $15 million from NSW Government would be supported by other sources, and also for the Hub to attract additional grants or similar funding streams.

Is there a sense of the budget allocation over the 10 years (i.e. the money for projects vs Hub support staff)? 

There is not a preferred ratio for the operational budget to projects budget at this stage. Through the development of the workplan the allocation of funding should become clear over time with respect to resourcing.

Will entities joining as Network members be expected to pay some form of subscription fee? 

Proposals should put forward a potential membership fee structure considering government, research and industry members, and provide some information on what participating members would receive for their fee.

Is there an expectation of how the budget will be split between the three Networks? 

This will depend on the exact business plan of the Networks. We anticipate the Hub would look to ensure there is equity of impact across the Networks. We anticipate that emphasis or effort and expenses would go toward those activities with the highest return in terms of emissions reduction and industry outcomes. This process would be managed by the Hub.

Is there a mechanism by which we can tap into ARENA funding for our activities (with particular reference to Green Hydrogen)? If we have one ARENA-funded project with an industry lead on it, can we bring this project to the Hub and leverage the Hub’s funding to expand the scale of the project? 

This type of matched funding approach would be identified in the business plan for the Hub. If there is ARENA funding that the Hub is aware of, then the Hub and/or Network could bring together groups or form a consortium to apply for ARENA funding. For programs that emerge out of ARENA, should these proponents then approach the Hub for additional support, this is expected to be a matter for the Hub with consideration given to the merits of the opportunity in terms of net benefit in emissions reduction and industry outcomes compared with other projects.

What constraints have been considered around leveraging other funding/grants that can hinder the delivery and timeline? 

In terms of hindering the delivery and timeline of the proposal to run the Hub, a period of 10 weeks is available between the opening of the EOI, and closing of the RFP.  Furthermore, OCSE is seeking to share EOI information with RFP proponents to assist meeting the delivery timeline.

In terms of funding and grants once the Hub is operational, constraints around leveraging other funding and grants at this stage has not be considered. The types of external funding and grant will depend on those organisations involved in the different Networks and the business plan. This will become clearer once the Hub has been established. We anticipate the Hub leadership, once operational, would work to establish relationships with other ecosystem participants including funders to explore opportunities for partnering on programs.

How will Conflicts of Interest be managed in the selection of project funding? How will the Hub host and Network leads play a role in that?

External grants are not decided by the Hub. However, for those grants that are provided internally, there would be appropriate governance and management protocols put in place to deal with conflicts. This would include a committee to guide the priorities of each Network (and the overall Hub) and how they allocate funding. Conflicts of Interest will be managed through processes that will be described in the business plan. It is important that the Hub and Networks manage their own Conflicts of Interest and OCSE will work with them to develop a process around that.

Are the R&D Grants and R&D Commercialisation Infrastructure funding program following a similar timeline to the NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Hub establishment timeline? How will grant recipients link into the objectives/outcomes established by the Hub?

The Hub will be critical to informing the focus investment areas of the broader Clean Technology Innovation Program (CTIP) and OCSE is working closely with Environment, Energy and Science (in the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment) who are leading the CTIP. Once established, the Hub will have regular meetings to assist with coordinating work across the CTIP. OCSE will keep the CTIP separate, but communication open. Once the Hub is established there will be clear mechanisms for understanding what is happening in the grants program and how to be involved.

What role can my organisation play?

How do you foresee non-research organisations or for-profit organisations with a large R&D focus serving your Hub strategy?

There are a range of ways industry and for-profit organisations to work with the Hub. These include:

  1. Industry presenting their problems to the Hub to be solved
  2. Becoming a member of the Hub and collaborating on projects
  3. Becoming an interested party and receiving information and notifications.

In terms of a for-profit organisation being the Hub host or a co-host, this would be less favourable, to ensure that there are no neutrality-related issues or obstacles to collaboration for other participants.

Can interstate organisations participate in the Hub?

Interstate organisations are welcome to participate in the Hub. Their participation would need to deliver decarbonisation outcomes, skills or economic benefit to NSW. It is unlikely that NSW Government funds would be provided to the interstate entity to undertake work in their home state unless there was an overwhelming case showing benefit to NSW.

There are a few organisations like RACE for 2030, Materials & Embodied Carbon Leaders’ Alliance (MECLA) and the Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative that have similar goals. How do you propose to engage with existing networks and collaborations? Will the Hub link with other Commonwealth Cooperative Research Centres (such as RACE for 2030, Heavy Industry Low-carbon Transition (HILT) or Future Fuels)? 

OCSE is aware that there are many decarbonisation initiatives and that more are being created. One of the first activities of the Hub and Networks is to undertake a scoping study of existing work and to determine how they can complement it. The Hub will work closely with CRCs and other initiatives, as well as the Federal Government Technology Investment Roadmap. We anticipate the Hub collaborating on projects with a number of these entities, and some of them becoming members of the Hub or vice versa.

What role do you see VET providers playing in the skills, education and training in the Hub? What type of financial contributions would be required from skills providers – in-kind? 

Skills development is an important part of the Hub in its goal of delivering jobs growth. OCSE envisions that the universities and VET providers will play a strong role in skills development. This will be further defined during the establishment of the Hub and the Networks’  business plans.