The Australian Government is investing in our forest and wood products industries’ research and innovation capacity to deliver Australian‑made solutions to national challenges.
In partnership with the University of Tasmania (UTAS), the Australian Government has established an Australia-wide National Institute for Forest Products Innovation, under the operational name of Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI).
AFWI will receive over $100 million in funding from the Australian Government between 2022-23 to 2026-27. AFWI is based in Launceston at UTAS and will have three regional research centres, which will undertake forestry research and development.
One of the research centres is based at UTAS in Launceston. The Australian Government is identifying the other 2 research centres through an expression of interest (EOI) process.
UTAS (as host of AFWI) will work with preferred applicants to enter into an agreement to establish the research centres.
The department has sought expressions of interest (EOIs) from organisations to establish 2 AFWI research centres. The applications were sought based on the following documents:
Expression of interest guidelines for establishing Australian Forest and Wood Innovations research centres (PDF 485 KB)
Expression of interest guidelines for establishing Australian Forest and Wood Innovations research centres (DOCX 815 KB)
If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.
The department provided the following responses to questions received during the AFWI research centres EOI question period.
Q. Can video content be used to support an application?
A. There is nothing in the Expression of interest guidelines that excludes the submission of video as a supporting portion of an application. If submitting a video, please be conscious of the email file size limits and provide an accompanying transcript (answered 19 October 2023).
Q. How is 'industry’ defined and does it include state governments and Indigenous businesses?
A. For the purpose of this EOI ‘Industry’ is defined as commercial entities operating within the forest and wood products sectors. Industry includes entities involved in production forest management, harvesting, transportation of forest products, wood and fibre processing, and the use of forest and wood products.
State owned forestry enterprises and Indigenous businesses that operate within the forest and wood products sectors, on a commercial basis, fall under this definition (answered 25 October 2023).
Q. Is the success of proposals dependant on the support of states and how is this support determined?
A. All EOIs will be assessed against the mandatory criteria, and the five equally weighted selection criteria set out in the EOI documentation.
Support from state governments, or state agencies, will be considered by the panel when assessing the five equally weighted selection criteria. State government, or state agency support is not a mandatory requirement.
Support for an EOI can be demonstrated through a high-level letter of support for the proposed research centre.
Financial and/or in-kind support can be offered in support of a proposal to host a research centre, or for individual research projects once centres are established (answered 20 November 2023).
Q. How do stakeholders determine which proposals to support without visibility of all proposals?
A. It is the applicant’s responsibility to approach stakeholders to seek support for their applications. Stakeholders can then choose to support any proposal they see merit in.
Research centres, once established, will be required to work with stakeholders on all research proposals (answered 20 November 2023).
Q. Do proponents need to demonstrate that they have made a genuine attempt to understand the research needs of the forest and wood products industries (as opposed to their own research interests)?
A. Successful proponents, that are asked to establish AFWI research centres, will be required to have industry support for all research undertaken.
AFWI Headquarters will engage with industry and with the research centres to refine the research that will be progressed under these specialised research themes (answered 20 November 2023).
Q. As part of Criterion 2, applicants are asked to provide information about the lead researchers that will contribute to the proposed research centre. What is meant by ‘relevant citations’?
A. For the purpose of this EOI, ‘relevant citations’ are intended to include publications and research outputs that have been produced by the contributing lead researchers and are relevant to the forest and wood products industries (answered 23 November 2023).
Q. Can my organisation participate in a proposal if our fixed indirect costs are greater than 10%?
A. Indirect cost limits are not intended to restrict the participation of parties in research activities but are instead intended to limit administration costs and maximise AFWI funds that are committed to research.
If indirect costs, greater than 10%, are proposed for a proposed project under the conditional or national open call, proposals will require appropriate matching funding, as per the funding allocation conditions.
All research proposals will be assessed by the research advisory committee and the board for value for money (answered 24 November 2023).
AFWI will put Australia’s forest and wood products industries on the front foot, supporting applied research, development and innovation.
It will create opportunities for innovation and commercialisation of new knowledge.
It will also provide opportunities to develop researchers in forest and wood products industries and associated research areas.
AFWI Headquarters, based at UTAS, is the administrative centre that will coordinate research undertaken by three regional research centres and other projects through a national call each year.
One of the research centres will be hosted by UTAS in Launceston.
The location of the other two research centres will be identified via the EOI process that is currently being conducted by the department.
The agreement with UTAS includes 3 forms of research funding:
- Core research funding – funding available for use by research centres that does not require matching funding from industry, but requires industry support
- Research centre dedicated funding – funding that is allocated to research centres that requires matching funding from industry
- National open call research – funding that is available for any forestry researchers in Australia, selected from an annual national call for projects, that requires matching funding from industry.
Matching funding can be cash or in-kind, and can be from industry, or other organisations. Commonwealth funding from other sources cannot be used as matching funds. Details on the National open call will be made available in the coming months.
More information on research centre funding is available in the EOI guidelines.
Each research centre will have specialised research themes.
Examples of the anticipated research themes that AFWI may address are outlined below. These themes are to provide guidance for the EOI process and should be considered, and may be expanded upon when drafting EOI applications.
AFWI’s research focus will also be informed by the AFWI strategic plan and industry engagement.
Climate change solutions
Forestry and forest products have the potential to support the goal of a net zero emissions economy by 2050. There are opportunities to add value to the industry through innovation focusing on:
- reducing industry emissions
- the role of forestry in carbon capture and sequestration
- assisting in the substitution of emissions intense materials with low-carbon forest product alternatives
- carbon capture by wood products.
Sustainable forests for our future
Opportunities to advance research into our unique forests for a sustainable future, including:
- tree breeding and genetics
- digital technology for forest management, monitoring and inventory
- improved silvicultural management
- First Nations peoples’ participation in production forest management
- natural capital accounting and maximising multiple forest benefits
- management of biodiversity, conservation and threatened species in a production landscape
- management of forest health, pests and diseases, including biosecurity
- fire management in a changing climate in the production landscape
- farm forestry in a productive landscape.
Making the most of our available wood fibre
Innovation to make the most of our wood fibre resources could focus on:
- product segregation and greater value recovery from existing resources
- wood and paper products
- innovative value adding to wood fibre
- biomaterial development
- new engineered wood solutions for construction
- improved supply chain
- transport logistics
- safety improvements, including fatigue management
- improved processing efficiency
- digital technologies, sensing machine learning and artificial intelligence applications in processing
- increasing wood fibre products contribution to the bioeconomy and circular economy
- optimising resource properties.