Circular Challenge Funding Scheme

NSW Circular has launched the Circular Challenge Funding Scheme in an exciting new round of support for Australian research. The Circular Challenge fund of $600K will be used to support one or more collaborative iconic projects that will enable the delivery of circularity in, and scaling of, critical supply chains identified by the work of NSW Circular.

Hospital Plastics

Solar Panels




To learn more about the Scheme, check out the links & information below.


This list includes the questions addressed during the Circular Challenge Funding Scheme Information Webinar.

Can applications be led by industry organisations that are partnering with a NSW university or research group?

No, applications must be led by a NSW-based university/research organisation, with industry, government and other partners acting as secondary members/partners of the team.

CRCs are eligible as project collaborators/participants but not as a lead research organisation. Researchers working in the CRC are eligible to apply from their Universit(ies) and leverage the work of the CRC.


Are there more detailed guidelines available regarding the supply chain areas to be addressed?

In designing the scheme guidelines we have intentionally left the supply chain groups quite open, as the focus of our selection panel is on choosing projects which demonstrate a strong potential to be scaled and to drive impact in the circular economy, rather than on particular resource streams.


Can research teams apply for less than $200K funding?

The total funding available is $600,000 in FY 2021/22. The funding may be used to support a single iconic Project, or up to three Projects ($200K minimum).


Can an applicant outline proposed spending on equipment that can be used broadly by their organisation?

NSW Circular funding cannot be used for equipment and consumables that are considered to be for broad general use or already held by the university. Funding can be used for equipment that directly relates to the project.


Can a successful applicant change how they spend their funding once it has been received?

All expenses must be itemised in the budget template. Funding must be spent in accordance with the budget, and any requests for variations must be made to NSW Circular in and approved in advance.


Do all parties involved in the application need to submit their payment details to receive funding?

Funding will be paid to the Lead University in a single tranche specified in the funding contract. The Lead University is responsible for distributing funds to collaborating Universities.


Upon completion of the project, can the research team publish their work without restrictions?

The IP relating to each project will be negotiated on a project-by-project basis at the time of contract negotiation. However, NSW Circular encourages discussion of IP expectations between partners as soon as practicable in the project planning process.

Additionally, NSW Circular must be acknowledged as a funder in any publication or reports resulting from the project.


Is the focus entirely on diverting waste from landfill?

Landfill diversion is a key component of most circular supply chains. This is also where a lot of the value is – in the materials currently going to landfill. This would be an important benefit to consider in a proposal.


Do batteries qualify as “e-Waste”?

Strictly speaking the term ‘e-Waste’ encompasses all old electrical appliances either in a state of disrepair or simply obsolete. This includes everything from fridges and microwaves to mobile phones and computers. Batteries can be part of the supply chain, so if they are addressed as part of an electronic device system and/or supply chain they could probably be part of a project. Important is the systems perspective.


Can you team up with an overseas or non-NSW-based institution that is already involved in one or more that identified areas?

Yes, as long as the application involves at least two collaborating research organisations from NSW.


Thinking longer term, I would be interested in any comments on Design for Deconstruction (DfD) and reuse, particularly where large structures such as buildings are concerned.  At the right time this would lend itself to a pilot or exemplar project being initiated.

The EOI is open to ‘Other’ circular economy topics, beyond the five priority areas mentioned.


Could a new startup apply?

Startups can participate as ‘end user’ project collaborators but cannot be the lead organisation.

What is the project period?

Answer: Ideally 6-12 months, though depending on the proposed project this could be extended to a maximum of 24 months. The appropriate duration of the project and project milestones will be negotiated with the selected team(s) on a case-by-case basis.


What about zero waste technologies such as pyrolysis? Can we include these in the proposal?

Proposals should be based around supply chain considerations; specific areas of technology or experimentation are eligible if grounded in a focus on solving an end-user problem relating to a critical supply chain.


Is there a collaboration portal to aid supply chain alignment?

NSW Circular will be in touch shortly with more details.


How is the social component going to be measured?

One of the core selection criteria refers to the need to indicate how the project will deliver socio-economic, environmental or other benefits to NSW, including reference to any reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the use of raw material resources. We are looking for proposals that not only identify and if possible measure, the impacts of carbon reduction, environmental benefits but also potential impact on improving behavioural change towards waste recovery.


Is there more information in relation to “Organics” and what comes under this theme?

Proposals that extract the highest order value from organics will be encouraged.


Any relationship with NSW Net Zero Industry Innovation Program?

The Circular Challenge Funding Scheme is not connected to the NSW Net Zero Industry Innovation Program, however there is significant cross-over in the objectives of the two initiatives.


Do I take it that the technology ought to be ready for scale-up rather than go through research to develop solutions?

Either would be eligible.


Do all partners need to provide cash, or for example, could the matching cash be from one partner only and the others give in kind?

At least matching cash and matching in kind from collaborating organisations. The specific mix of who contributes cash/in kind is up to the applicant.


In relation to batteries, can battery electric conversion of platforms count as part of the supply chain solution?

Supply chain solutions involve the collaboration of different partners in the product circle/value chain, e.g. different producers or producers and consumers


Who is on the Research Assessment Panel that will assess the EOIs?

The panel is chaired by the NSW Circular Board Chair, and members will include leading research experts. The membership of the Assessment Panel will be released once membership is confirmed. 


Can closing water cycle (recycled water) be included?

Yes, additionally to the five identified critical supply chains the EOI form includes an ‘other’ category.


Who can we contact if we have any questions? 

Please register any questions here and the NSW Circular team will be in touch shortly with an answer.