UNSW researchers have won the highest level of government and industry funding in the latest Australian Research Council (ARC)’s Linkage Projects scheme.

UNSW will receive $10.3 million in ARC funding for 32 projects, the most grants of any Australian university. With money from industry partners, UNSW’s total funding rises to $32.4 million, the highest in the country.

Under the Linkage scheme, industry partners must make a significant cash and/or in-kind contribution to their projects. The collaboration is essential to transforming industries, building communities and strengthening the Australian economy.

UNSW's successful research grants cover fields ranging from environmental sciences, engineering and earth sciences through to economics, law and creative writing.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field said it was a great result for UNSW.

“UNSW has always been one of the strongest universities in the country in terms of industry engagement and coming in at number one in the country in the Linkage grants is a testament to the impact of the work we are doing,” he said.

“The successful grants at UNSW form new partnerships with nearly 50 industries or organisations and show that UNSW’s research focus is clearly aligned with Australia’s research priorities.”

The announcement also highlights UNSW’s strength in engineering, with 15 of the grants going to engineering-related projects.

Among UNSW's successful grant recipients is an Engineering team, led by Dr Matthew Edwards, Professor Stuart Wenham, Dr Jingjia Ji and Dr Yu Yao, which received the largest UNSW grant of $565,000.

The project will use innovative manufacturing techniques to make highly efficient solar cell structures easier and cheaper to fabricate. The techniques will eliminate the use of toxic lead and cadmium and expensive silver and are expected to reduce the cost of manufacturing solar panels by 20%.

Dr Edwards said his team is hoping to transform the Australian patented technology into mass-production, providing overseas licence income to Australia.

Professors David Waite and John Fletcher and Dr Peter Kovalsky, also from UNSW Engineering, have been awarded $560,000 to develop technology to cost-effectively deionize water to make brackish, contaminated water usable.

UNSW Science team comprising Professors David Keith, Stuart Phinn and David Warton, Dr Rosemary Elith and Mr Daniel Connolly has been awarded $556,000.Their project aims to develop a fine-scale vegetation classification and map for almost a million square kilometres, which will provide the data needed to make crucial biodiversity conservation decisions.

UNSW Law Professors Ross Buckley and Colin Picker have been awarded $547,000. This project aims to draw on regulatory developments abroad to develop an innovative, regulatory regime for Australian digital financial services, which are set to grow rapidly in Australia. An effective and appropriate regulatory regime should result in a more competitive and efficient payments system that will lift productivity and economic growth.

Professor Richard Kingsford and colleagues from UNSW Science have been awarded $444,000 to assess the status of the iconic platypus, identified as ‘near-threatened’ in 2014. The project will link the vulnerability of platypus populations to conservation actions that will reduce the platypus’ extinction risk.

A full list of UNSW’s grant winners can be found on the ARC website.