Shanghai Jiao Tong University-with University of Sydney seed fund

USyd-SJTU Partnership Collaboration Awards
Guidelines for Applicants


The University of Sydney (USyd) and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) have identified each other as strategic partners to foster deep collaborations in research and education. The USyd-SJTU Partnership Collaboration Awards (PCA) have been established to facilitate and support joint initiatives that will strengthen the two universities’ strategic priorities as well as develop multi-disciplinary cutting-edge research to create academic and societal impact.

In this round of the PCA, applicants are encouraged to submit funding proposals for innovative and sustainable programs built around collaborative research linking USyd and SJTU. Proposals for learning and teaching initiatives may also be considered if included as part of a larger collaborative research proposal.

Applicants must also demonstrate that their projects are sustainable in the long-term, preferably by including a plan for engagement that includes leveraging external funding and publication outputs.

Preference will be given to teams which include PhD or masters by research students, postdocs, Early and Mid-Career Researchers (EMCR) and researchers on Sabbatical Leave rather than simply one-to-one research projects. Projects which are multidisciplinary in nature are encouraged.

In this round, up to ten proposals will be funded (each with two Chief Investigators; one from USyd and one from SJTU). Each successful proposal may receive up to the equivalent of AUD 10,000 (CNY 50,000) from each institution for a total of approximately AUD 20,000.

1. Eligibility

1.1. Proposals are invited from academic staff from all disciplines at USyd and SJTU and their affiliated Research Centres and Institutes.

1.2. Applicants from affiliated Research Centres and Institutes must be University Title Holders.

1.3. Chief Investigators from must be employed on a full-time, part-time (appointed at least 0.5 FTE), fixed term or continuing basis. If on a fixed term contract, the end date must be beyond the funding period.

1.4. PhD and masters by research students, post-docs, and research assistants/associates are not eligible to apply as Chief Investigators but they are welcome to join the applications. 

1.5. Current recipients of PCA funding whose project is still ongoing and will not have finished by the application close date may apply for concurrent grants but are required to submit a progress report of their current project when submitting their application. The progress report should be an attachment to the application – single page, narrative update on project progress to date and unexpended award balance.

1.6. Previous recipients of PCA funding whose projects have finished or will have finished by the application close date may only apply for consecutive grants if they have submitted their final report.

2. Duration

Funding is available early June 2020 until 30 June 2021.  

3. Timeline

Applications open

 24 February 2020

Applications close

27 March 2020

Successful applicants notified

15 May 2020

Latest date for projects to start

30 June 2020

Latest date for projects to end

30 June 2021

Final reports due

30 September 2021


4. Eligible Grant Activities

4.1. Activities that will be considered for funding include:

  • Airfares: Only travel up to the value of four economy class return airfares will be considered;
  • Other travel expenses (e.g. train, rental car);
  • Costs for hosting a seminar/conference or workshop (should not exceed 50% of total budget);
  • Accommodation and subsistence (a maximum of two weeks for up to four people);
  • Consumables; and
  • Publications and printing costs.

*Noting that for SJTU awardees, any expenses other than travel and subsistence should not exceed 30% of the total funding request.

4.2. All travel activities must comply with the guidelines of the respective universities.

4.3. Activities that will not be considered for funding:

  • General teaching;
  • An individual staff member’s research projects, unless as catalytic funding for the establishment of an international research collaboration with the prospect of external funding;
  • Event registration fees;
  • Venue hire if event held on campus;
  • Website development;
  • Salaries or salary supplementation, and honoraria;
  • Scholarships for students;
  • Course fees for international students;
  • Bench fees;
  • Mobile phone cards;
  • Entertainment costs; and
  • Computers, including laptops (excluding access to high-performance computers or other specialised applications that are justified by the project) and basic computing facilities such as printers, word processing and other standard software.

5. Submission Requirements

The proposal must address the selection criteria (see point 6) and include the following elements:

  • Project timeline (a timeline form is built into the online application)
  • Project budget (a budget form is built into the online application)
  • CV of each investigator named in the project team (maximum two pages in length) which should include:

- Qualifications, current position and employment history

- 10 career-best publications

- Awards and relevant presentations

- Current grant income

- Collaborative track record (limited to 200 words)

  • A brief letter of support in English on official letterhead from any additional institution/organisation (other than USyd or SJTU) that intends to formally collaborate.

6. Scoring and Selection Criteria

6.1. Priority is given to applications that align with the strategic research areas of both universities. Applications in other fields showing good prospect of sustainability are also welcome.

6.2. Criteria do not have weightings; proposals are assessed holistically. Each proposal will be assessed according to the selection criteria described below.

Selection Criteria



Quality & Relevance


300 words maximum

· Clearly describe the objectives and methodology to be employed with the project. The alignment with strategic priorities and the objectives of the funding scheme will be considered in combination with the soundness of the concept and credibility of the proposed methodology.

· Explain how the participants in the research team will bring together the necessary expertise to carry out the project. The 2-page CV of each investigator will be taken into consideration.




300 words maximum

· Elaborate on the workplan and milestones outlined in the timeframe (there are separate sections in the application form for an outline of activities in the Timeline and Budget). Proposed timeframes and budget estimates should be realistic and appropriate.

· The long-term plan for engagement to attract research funding and produce publications will be taken into consideration.

· This section should also address the appropriateness of the allocation of tasks, ensuring that all participants [including PhD or masters by research students, postdocs, Early and Mid-Career Researchers (EMCR), and any researchers on Sabbatical Leave] have a valid role and there are adequate resources in the project to enable them to fulfil that role.




300 words maximum

· Outline what the participants will gain from the project and how it will contribute to the discipline and field of research.

· Explain how the project will establish or strengthen a durable cooperation between the universities and participants.

· Explain how the project will impact beyond the academic sphere (i.e. benefit society, address global challenges, Sustainable Development Goals).

· Explain how the project activities and results will be communicated to different target audiences.




7. Expected Outcomes

It is expected that the selected proposal will result in the following outcomes:



Research quality and influence

The research:

- will advance knowledge in the field which addresses an issue of importance

- may result in fundamental outcomes

- is innovative in concept

- will use well established approaches to good effect


At least one (1) referred publication in a nationally/internationally recognised scholarly journal

External funding

At least one (1) national/international competitive grant submission

Training & education

Supervision and mentoring of visiting PhD students/postdoctoral researchers/ECRs

Joint Workshop

Organise at least one (1) joint workshop at either institution


At least one (1) conference presentation


8. Assessment Process

Award selection will be made by a joint committee formed by members of both universities, which reserves final authority over the selection of projects taking into account university and faculty strategic priorities, and the availability of funds.

9. Application Submission

9.1. All applications must be jointly submitted by a Chief Investigator from USyd and a Chief Investigator from SJTU.

9.2. All applications must be submitted online via the USyd Funding Schemes Site at

9.3. Applications can only be initiated by the Chief Investigator from USyd using their UniKey and password. Chief Investigators from SJTU may only access and edit the applications after invitation from USyd Chief Investigators to be a “Member” of the application.

9.4. All applications require the endorsement by the relevant USyd Head of School and SJTU Vice Dean for International Affairs. The Chief Investigators must complete their respective Endorsement Coversheet and upload it to USyd Funding Schemes Site before final submission.

9.5. Only complete submissions will be considered.

9.6. Late applications will not be considered.

10. Notification of Application Outcomes

Successful applicants will receive a letter of award outlining the process to accept the award including payment. Feedback specific to individual applications will not be provided.

11. Change of Investigator

Applicants should contact the Program Coordinator at each institution. Such changes will need to be approved and documented.

12. Extensions

Under exceptional circumstances extensions will be approved for a maximum period of six months. Applicants seeking an extension must submit an Amendment Request Form along with a revised budget and timeline of activities to the Program Coordinators for approval. Amendment Request Forms are available upon request from the Program Coordinators.

13. Forfeiture of Grants

Funds awarded by SJTU not spent by 30 June 2021 must be returned so that unspent balances can be re-allocated. 

Funds awarded by the University of Sydney must be expended by 30 June 2021. Each month, funds matching actual expenditure from the previous month will be transferred into the Chief Investigator’s university account by Corporate Finance. The transfer of funds will cease when the awarded amount is reached or 30 June 2021, whichever comes first. Any expenditure above the awarded amount will need to be cleared to another Faculty/School account (such as consulting or other as appropriate).

14. Financial and Reporting Obligations

The funding should only be used for the approved project and in accordance with the proposal and the budget plan. It must not be used for any other purposes and prior approval is needed for any variation in the budget items. Awardees should adhere to the purchasing guidelines of the respective universities to which reimbursement is to be sought. Reimbursement of each expenditure item will be capped at the approved amount.

Request for variations from original proposals must be submitted to both universities using an Amendment Request Form. Amendment Request Forms are available upon request from the Program Coordinators.

Recipients must submit a final report by 30 September 2021. In consultation with their Finance Manager, the USyd Chief Investigator must complete the acquittal of awarded funds and provide a statement as part of their final report. An acquittal statement template is provided with the report pro-forma online through the Funding Schemes Site which is linked to your application. Failure to submit a completed report will result in all members of the project team being ineligible to submit future funding applications and mention of the Partnership Collaboration Award will be removed from their University of Sydney online Academic Profile.

The activation of research funding accounts are not tied to ethics/other approvals being obtained. It is the responsibility of Chief Investigators to ensure that no work requiring approval is commenced until such approvals are in place.

15. Publications

Any publications (e.g. abstracts, articles) or dissemination (e.g. public presentations) arising from activities supported by the PCA should acknowledge assistance received from the PCA and copies or notification should be submitted to the Office of Global Engagement at USyd and Global Affairs Office at SJTU. The standard acknowledgment is “USyd–SJTU Partnership Collaboration Awards”.

Program Coordinators

The University of Sydney

Matthew Louie

Partnerships Officer

Office of Global Engagement


Phone: +61 2 9351 4832

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Yanping Wu

Project Manager

International Affairs Division


Phone: +86 21 3420 6751