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About the program

The James Martin Institute‘s Policy Challenge Grant is a prestigious annual award program to support applied public policy research. Applications opened on 9 March 2022.

With the aim of tackling the greatest public policy challenges facing New South Wales, grants will be awarded to outstanding academics undertaking applied policy research, or translating existing research for a policy audience.

Successful projects will generate new insights, foster engagement between academics, policymakers and other stakeholders, and support improved policy outcomes.

The JMI Policy Challenge Grant is unique: JMI will offer dedicated support to grant recipients to translate their research outputs for a policy audience and maximise the impact of their research through targeted communications and engagement.


Key benefits

Who can apply?

We welcome applications from academics employed by JMI’s member universities:

Program details

  • Career stage: Academics at all career stages
  • Type of research: Applied public policy research
  • Disciplines: All
  • Eligibility: Lead researcher must be employed by the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, or the University of Technology Sydney
  • Funding pool: $300,000
  • Funding amount: Applicants can apply for $25,000-$100,000
  • Type of funding: direct research costs only
  • Duration: Projects must be delivered within a maximum
    of 2 years

For more information, download the Applicant Guidelines.

Applications closed
Potential project topics may be derived from, but are not limited to, the following themes:

The new economy

  • Just transitions to a net-zero economy
  • Building an inclusive innovation economy
  • The value of the care economy
  • Unlocking the power of the regions

New directions after the pandemic

  • Creating resilient and dynamic cities
  • Embedding lessons in digital health
  • Harnessing policy opportunities from mRNA manufacturing capacity

Towards equality of opportunity

  • Addressing educational attainment gaps
  • Removing the digital divide for learners
  • Opening pathways for skills development, including the role of the NSW Institute of Applied Technology (IAT) in increasing access to high-skill careers

These themes are indicative only and are intended to give examples of potential areas of inquiry that could be pursued. They are not intended to limit the topics applicants may wish to propose.

Across all policy domains, the Institute is keenly interested in Indigenous perspectives and the impact of public policies on Indigenous Australians.

We welcome applications from academics from JMI’s member universities:

  • University of Sydney
  • Western Sydney University
  • University of Technology Sydney

Who can apply:

  • Individual academics or project teams (in the case of a team, the project leader must be from a member university).
  • Academics at all career stages are encouraged to apply, including early career researchers.
Successful recipients must agree to the following requirements:

  • Publication of JMI Policy Insights Paper: This is a JMI branded report of approximately 10-15 pages, capturing key insights from your research for a policy-focused audience. It must be accessible to a non-academic audience. JMI will support grant recipients in developing the paper and ensuring it reaches relevant policy audiences.
  • Participation in research communications: JMI will ensure that research insights are effectively communicated to policy audiences. All grant recipients must participate in research communications activities with dedicated support from JMI. For a list of examples, please see the Applicant Guide.
  • Maximum project timeframe: The project must be delivered within a maximum of two years from the date the grant is awarded.

In 2022, the overall funding pool is $300,000.

Each grant application must be between $25,000-$100,000.

Grant funding can be used for the direct costs of research.

For a detailed overview of the eligible project costs that the grant funding can cover, please see the Applicant Guidelines.

Essential criteria

Criteria Description
Relevance to public policy

Research must have a demonstrable relevance to public policy in NSW. It should be clear how the research can be applied by policymakers to either an existing policy priority area, or a potential future policy challenge in NSW. 

Innovative approach to a policy challenge

The proposed project must demonstrate an innovative approach to tackling a policy challenge. To see a list of examples, see the Applicant Guide. 

Positive impact on a policy challenge

The proposed project must demonstrate a strong potential to generate public value through improved public policy. 

Approach to engagement with policymakers

Applicants must outline their proposed approach to engagement with relevant policymakers and practitioners. This must include how the research will be leveraged for public policy impact.


Desirable criteria

To view a list of desirable (but non-essential) criteria, please see the Applicant Guidelines.

Applications open: 9 March 2022

Applications close: 15 April 2022

Applications must be submitted via JMI Apply, our dedicated applicant portal.

The Policy Challenge Grant has a three-stage application process, intended to limit the amount of time required from applicants.

This three-stage process, cumulatively, constitutes your JMI Policy Challenge Grant application.

  • Stage 1: Expressions of Interests (EOIs) – 7 March – 15 April 2022
  • Stage 2: Interviews – 9 – 27 May 2022
  • Stage 3: Supplementary documents and references – 13 June – 8 July 2022

You can view and download the EOI questions .

For more details about each application stage, please see the Applicant Guidelines.

Applications closed
The JMI Research Advisory Group will review all applications that have progressed through to Stage 3 of the application process, and make a recommendation on the successful grant recipients. The Board will approve final grant recipients.

Grants will be awarded in August 2022.

Successful applicants will be notified via email, and contacted by the JMI team.

The JMI team will then work with the researcher(s) to execute a JMI Policy Challenge Grant Agreement and to develop a Research, Communications and Engagement Plan with the project leader.

Once this has been finalised, initial funding will be provided and the project will commence.

More information

Applicant Guidelines

Read our Applicant Guidelines for more detailed information about the application process, potential themes and the selection criteria.
Download (PDF)

Contact us

Frequently asked questions

Starting in 2022, the JMI Policy Challenge Grant is an annual program providing grants to outstanding academics interested in undertaking applied policy research or translating their existing research for a policy context and audience.

The purpose of the JMI Policy Challenge Grant is to:

  • Tackle the biggest public policy challenges through the generation and public communication of new insights.
  • Foster engagement between academics and policymakers.
  • Support improved policy outcomes informed by applied public policy research.

The JMI Policy Challenges Grant is unique: the Institute will offer dedicated support to grant recipients to translate their research outputs for a policy audience, and to maximise the impact of their research through targeted communications and engagement.

Individuals or project teams can apply for a JMI Policy Challenge grant.

If applying as an individual, you must be an employee of one of our member universities:

  • University of Sydney
  • Western Sydney University, or
  • University of Technology Sydney.

If applying as a team, at least the project leader must be from one of the member universities.

Academics at all career stages are encouraged to apply, including early career researchers.

If you do not meet the above eligibility criteria, you will not be eligible for a grant at this time.

Yes. As part of the EOI questionnaire, you will be asked to enter the details of your project leader. Provided they are from a JMI member university, you will be able to progress the application.

However, for ease, we strongly encourage the project leader to submit the EOI and be the primary point of contact with the JMI team throughout the application process.

Individual applicants need to be 0.5 FTE equivalent in a contract of permanent position that extends to the end of the grant being applied for (max. two years). If you are outside these criteria, you can participate as a member of a project team with the lead applicant meeting the eligibility criteria.

Affiliates such as honorary title holders or research affiliates are not eligible to apply for the research grant as lead researchers. They can however, participate as part of a project team. 

The following Australian Higher Education ranks are eligible to apply as lead researchers for the grant: 

  • Level A — Tutor/Associate Lecturer/Research Associate
  • Level B — Lecturer/Research Fellow
  • Level C — Senior Lecturer/Senior Research Fellow
  • Level D — Associate Professor
  • Level E — Professor

If you qualify as one of the above ranks within your university, you are eligible to apply.

The policy challenge must have a clear link to NSW and the research outputs must be applied to the NSW context. This requirement is broadly defined. Research conducted under a grant does not need to be for a policy challenge faced exclusively by NSW.

Your grant application can address any topic that fits within the broad criteria of the grants program. The Institute has suggested several potential themes – however, these are neither prescriptive nor restrictive. The Institute is open to any grant application that addresses a major policy challenge facing NSW.

In 2022, the total amount of grant funding available is $300,000.

The minimum amount awarded for a single grant is $25,000.

The maximum amount awarded for a single grant is $100,000.

The amount that you request as part of the grant application can be any amount between these lower and upper limits.

Eligible project costs that can be covered by the funding include:

  • personnel, postdoctoral research associates and research assistants, technicians and laboratory attendants
  • access to research and infrastructure facilities and technical workshop services
  • essential field research
  • expert third party services
  • equipment and consumables
  • dissemination of project research outputs and outreach activities
  • specialised computer equipment and software
  • travel costs essential to the project
  • web hosting and development
  • workshops, survey costs, focus groups and conferences
  • data science and analysis costs
  • reasonable essential costs for academics who are carers or who themselves require care, where such costs are directly linked to the execution of grant project activities and these direct costs would not be covered by the home institution.

Please note that teaching buy-out is not covered by this grant.

No.  

A list of costs the grant can cover is provided above.  

The research conducted under a JMI grant and the required research outputs must be completed within two years of the grant being awarded.

There are three core requirements or conditions for receiving a JMI grant:

  1. Publication of a JMI Policy Insights Paper
  2. A commitment to communicating your insights to policy audiences
  3. Completion of the research project within two years

Any academic outputs in addition to the core requirements are at the discretion of the grant recipient(s) and are not a core requirement of the JMI grant.

The JMI Research Advisory Group will review all applications that have progressed through to Stage 3 of the application process, and make a recommendation on the successful grant recipients.

The JMI Board will approve final grant recipients.

JMI will ask applicants who have progressed to the third and final stage of the grant application process to nominate a referee.

It is for applicants to determine who is best placed to provide a reference. However, a grant project team member cannot act as a referee.

JMI recommends that you provide a referee who can speak meaningfully to your (real or potential) ability to conduct applied, policy-relevant research aligned with the goals of the grant program.

No. Only the project leader is required to submit the details of a nominated referee.

As a condition of applying for a grant, you agree that JMI can retain all the information you supply. JMI will not share any information you supply as part of the grant application with any third parties without your permission (except third parties that are part of the application assessment process).

All information and data supplied is stored with SurveyMonkey. Please refer to the SurveyMonkey Privacy Notice for detailed information.

Yes. JMI encourages and welcomes applications from researchers who have already secured other funding (or who intend to do so) in order to conduct the research.

Any conditions or requirements attached to other funding sources must not conflict with the requirements and conditions of a JMI grant.

You will be asked to provide details of any other existing or proposed funding sources as part of your application.

Yes. We encourage people without existing relationships to apply. JMI will work with successful grant recipients to support them to establish relevant connections in the course of their research and in communicating their insights.

Yes. We encourage all academics to apply who have a project topic relevant to a policy challenge facing the NSW government. JMI will work with successful grant recipients to translate their insights to a relevant policy audience, through a variety of communications channels.

Refer to the Applicant Guidelines for further details on the types of communications activities and the support that JMI will provide.

The James Martin Institute for Public Policy (JMI) has been established by the NSW Government, in partnership with the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and University of Technology Sydney. It is an independent institute that will transform how public policy is made in NSW and beyond.

We believe that for society to truly thrive, public policy should be informed by world-leading research.

We work toward this by bringing academic expertise into the early stages of policy making, working in partnership with government, to enable the contestability of ideas.

By creating neutral space for closer collaboration between policymakers and academics, as well as industry and community stakeholders, we can overcome complex policy challenges and deliver long-lasting public good.

It is the Institute’s broader mission to bring academic insights and expertise into public policymaking in NSW. The grants program will encourage and directly support research applicable to public policy challenges facing NSW within this decade.