Research Grant Program 2022
The VBA invites researchers at Australian educational institutions to apply for grants of financial and/or in-kind support for research that will assist in reducing moisture ingress and water damage in Victorian buildings.
Moisture ingress and water damage to buildings as a result of building and plumbing work across different stages of the building life cycle continues to be an issue affecting Victorian residential buildings. Moisture ingress and water damage in buildings is linked to negative impacts on human health and amenity, as well as building structural integrity.
The VBA is looking to support research that will find, or contribute to, new and innovative solutions to minimise moisture ingress and water damage, and help provide the evidence base to inform regulatory decisions and improvements to the building regulatory system and the quality of the built environment in Victoria.
The VBA is inviting grant applications for research that will help lead to reductions in moisture ingress and water damage in Victorian buildings through:
- improved building and plumbing practices
- improved skills and competencies for building practitioners, plumbing practitioners and tradespersons
- potential reforms to codes, standards and the regulatory framework.
Who can apply?
Researchers at Australian education institutions.
How to apply
To apply for a research grant applicants must send a completed VBA Research Grant Program 2022 Application Form (PDF, 480.47 KB) by email. Applications submitted in alternative formats will not be considered.
When do applications close?
Applications must be submitted by midday on Monday 14 March 2022. Late applications will not be accepted.
What support is available?
The research grant may comprise a financial and/or in-kind contribution from the VBA.
The financial component of the grant may be used for research expenses such as:
- contributing towards the salary of researcher/s or research assistant/s (when working on the VBA supported research)
- reasonable travel and other costs associated with conducting the research and/or collecting data
- hiring professional services, such as transcribing qualitative data and analysing quantitative data.
The financial component of the grant cannot be used for:
- large research infrastructure, equipment or software that would be reasonably expected to be provided by the educational institution undertaking the research
- resources that have already been purchased or for activities that have already taken place
- research that is outside the scope of the research grant funding agreement
- procuring the private sector to conduct the research.
The VBA’s in-kind contributions may be through employee time or other non-financial contributions.
How much financial support is available?
A cap for research grants (for individual projects and the overall program) has not been set.
The VBA Board will decide on successful applicants and how much support (financial and/or in-kind) they will receive. The level of funding will be dictated by the scale and complexity of the proposed research, the anticipated research impact and benefits to the community and industry, opportunities for other parties to contribute financial and/or in-kind support to the research, and competing fiscal priorities.
The VBA Board may decide to only partially fund proposed research, or to offer a lower amount than that requested by an applicant.
When will funding commence?
Funding to successful applicants will commence from August 2022, subject to the signing of a funding agreement.
The payment of grant funds may be up front or in instalments, subject to the funding agreement.
Funding will be released to successful applicants by way of an electronic funds transfer, following the execution of a funding agreement. Dependent on the funding agreement, the release of funds may coincide with research milestones being reached and progress reports being provided to the VBA. Funding will not be paid to an individual researcher.
Successful applicants will be required to enter into a research grant funding agreement with the VBA and comply with its terms and conditions.
The funding agreement addresses matters such as grant inclusions, exclusions, conditions, intellectual property, publication, reporting requirements, deliverables, payment schedule, termination clause and a speciﬁed start and end date, maintenance of appropriate insurance, requirement to acknowledge the VBA in all communications about the research, and allowing the VBA to use and distribute the research.
The grantee’s reporting obligations under the funding agreement will be proportionate to the scale, complexity and risk proﬁle of the funded research.
Potential applicants should review the template funding agreement (PDF, 505.09 KB) and ensure they understand the VBA’s minimum terms and conditions before applying.
Assessment of grant applications
Applications will go through an assessment process between March and June 2022.
Applications will be assessed by a panel, comprising VBA personnel and a VBA Board member, and chaired by the Manager, Research and Evaluation. Other VBA personnel or external experts may be invited to advise the panel on technical or probity issues, but they will not participate in the assessment process.
The VBA Board will decide which applications are successful and how much support (financial and/or in-kind) to give each, conditional upon the applicant agreeing to the terms and conditions reﬂected in a funding agreement.
Applications for a research grant will be assessed and shortlisted against the following selection criteria:
Value for money
Additional considerations include:
- reputational risk to the VBA of funding the research.
- whether the applicant has satisfactorily fulﬁlled the requirements of any previous and/or current contracts/agreements with the VBA.
- whether the applicant has demonstrated an appropriate strategy to manage any declared conﬂicts of interest.
Outcome of application
All applicants will be advised of the outcome of their application by email in July 2022.
Tuesday 18 January 2022
Information webinar for potential applicants
Thursday 10 February 2022
Midday on Monday 14 March 2022
March – June 2022
VBA Board makes funding decisions
Applicants notified of application outcome
Funding agreements signed
From July 2022
Funding agreements commence
From August 2022
The VBA hosted an information webinar for researchers from Australian education institutions interested in applying for a VBA research grant on 10 February 2022, providing a comprehensive overview of the research grant program and addressing frequently asked questions.
You can also download the information webinar presentation slides (PDF, 703.29 KB).
The following documents about the VBA are recommended reading to inform the development of an application for a research grant:
- Research Program
- Annual Report 2020-21
- Annual Plan and Corporate Plan
- Our role
- Our regulatory approach
- Proactive Inspections Program Quarterly Reports
Conﬂicts of interest
There may be an actual or potential conﬂict of interest, or perceived conﬂict of interest, between an applicant, personnel or research partners and VBA staff, any member of a VBA committee or the VBA Board.
An applicant will be asked to declare, as part of the application, any perceived or existing conﬂicts of interests or that, to the best of the applicant’s knowledge, there is no conﬂict of interest. If the applicant later identiﬁes an actual, apparent or perceived conﬂict of interest, they must inform the VBA in writing immediately.
A declared conﬂict of interest does not automatically preclude an applicant from being eligible for a research grant. The VBA will assess all declared conﬂicts of interest on a case-by-case basis.
Application documents, information received from applicants and internal documentation about applications will be kept conﬁdential and stored securely.
Successful grant recipients will be communicated externally by the VBA through various channels, including the VBA website, social media, media releases, and in various VBA reports, including the Annual Report. The information publicly communicated will include an overview of the funded research.
Research Grant Program 2021
The inaugural Research Grant Program 2021 helped the VBA identify and support research by researchers at Australian educational institutions that will improve the quality of the built environment and support a technologically advanced and innovative industry.
Applications for 2020-21 research grants opened in December 2020 and closed in February 2021, with 56 applications received from 17 educational institutions across Australia. Successful grant recipients in 2021 were:
- Deakin University – Investigating passive fire protection defects in residential multi-owned properties
- RMIT University – Pre-normative research on the fire safety of solar building envelopes
- University of Tasmania – Assessment of mould growth risk in regulatory compliant 6 Star and 7 Star new homes in Victoria
Frequently asked questions
No. The VBA Research Grant Program is only open to researchers at Australian educational institutions.
The VBA’s Research Grant Program recognises the unique abilities of education institutions to provide academic expertise and rigorous research. It is intended to boost the VBA’s research capabilities by backing academic researchers to find new and innovative solutions to challenges and help provide the evidence base to inform regulatory decisions and improvements to the building regulatory system.
No. The VBA Research Grant Program is not limited to Victorian educational institutions. Researchers from any education institution in Australia can apply to the VBA for a research grant.
Yes. There is no limit to the number of applications that a researcher or educational institution may submit. However, a researcher and/or educational institution should focus their efforts on submitting one application of high quality. It is unlikely that the VBA would support more than one application from the same researcher in a funding round, or more than one application from the same educational institution in a funding round.
No. The VBA will not contact applicants to request further information in support of an application if the assessment panel considers that insufficient detail has been provided to enable proper consideration of the application.
Applications that are considered by the assessment panel to be lacking critical information are unlikely to be successful.
No. An applicant does not require a certain title/research level to apply for a VBA research grant. However, the VBA expects that the proposed research and application for a VBA research grant is supported by the educational institution and will be appropriately supervised and managed.
Funding will not be released to an educational institution until a funding agreement has been executed by an appropriately authorised delegate of the educational institution and the VBA. The funds will not be released to individual researchers.
Before applying for a VBA research grant, applicants should ensure they have the appropriate approval within their educational institution to submit the application on behalf of the educational institution.
No. To ensure fairness and equity to all applicants and in considering internal arrangements for the assessment of applications, the VBA will not consider applications for a VBA research grant that are submitted after the advertised closing date.
Yes. An applicant can attach additional information to their application if there is insufﬁcient space in the relevant section of the application form, or if they wish to insert ﬁgures, ﬂow charts or tables. Applicants should ensure that appropriate references are made between the application form and the additional pages, and that the additional information is relevant and concise.
The VBA expects that researchers applying for a VBA research grant will be aware of the current research environment that is of relevance to the VBA’s research theme for the 2022 Grant Program.
The VBA is unlikely to support research that is similar to research that has already been completed or is currently underway either in Victoria or elsewhere.
Information about the VBA’s current or recently completed research can be found on the VBA Research page. VBA conducted or supported research that is relevant to the theme of water ingress and moisture damage in Victorian residential buildings is:
- Examining indoor mould and moisture damage in Victorian residential buildings
- Assessment of mould growth risk in regulatory compliant 6- and 7-star new homes in Victoria
- Use of behavioural insights to reduce improper service penetrations
- Fire safety of rendered expanded polystyrene (EPS) in Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems (EIFS) on Class 2-9 buildings of Type A or B construction (refer to the literature review)
- Better training to improve plumbing competency
Yes. Applications for a VBA research grant should focus on issues that are relevant to the regulation of the building and plumbing industries in Victoria, and minimising moisture ingress and water damage in Victorian buildings.
Research that does not focus on Victoria may still be of relevance to the regulation of the building and plumbing industries in Victoria.
The VBA is open to supporting research of varying scale, complexity and of different research methodologies.
Applications for a VBA research grant will be reviewed and shortlisted by an assessment panel comprising the State Building Surveyor and Chief Analyst (or their delegates), and a member of the VBA Board’s Research and Innovation Committee (RIC), for consideration by the RIC.
The RIC will make recommendations to the VBA Board on which applications to support, how much support to provide (ﬁnancial and/or in-kind) and conditions that should be attached to that grant. The VBA Board will make the ﬁnal decision.
VBA personnel or external experts, including academics or industry representatives, may be invited to advise the assessment panel on technical matters relating to any proposed research. However, those advisors will not make assessment decisions and will ﬁrst be required to declare any actual or perceived conﬂicts of interest before providing advice to the assessment panel.
No. The selection criteria against which applications will be assessed are not weighted.
A cap for individual grants has not been set. The VBA’s financial and in-kind contribution to successful research grants will be determined by the Board considering the scale and complexity of the research, and the VBA’s budget and resource capacity.
The VBA may decide to partially fund research through a VBA research grant. To assist the VBA Board in considering this, applicants are encouraged to present their proposed research project in stages in their application form, with corresponding milestones and deliverables.
The VBA has not set a time limit by which research supported through a VBA research grant must be completed. However, the duration of the research should be commensurate with the scale and complexity of the project/research.
The VBA appreciates that some research projects will require a longer period than others to complete, however, it expects to see a return on the investment it makes in research within a reasonable period.
Applicants are encouraged to consider a staged approach to the conduct of the research and deliverables.
The VBA will consider supporting research where ﬁnancial and/or in-kind contributions to the research are made by other parties. However, the VBA expects those other parties and their contribution (financial and in-kind) to be identiﬁed in the application for a research grant.
The VBA is open to considering supporting applications for research grants where two or more educational institutions are partnering in the research, however, the applicants must tell the VBA in their application how the research work will be distributed, and how the funding will be utilised. It is the VBA’s preference to enter into a funding agreement with one educational institution per research grant.
If the VBA receives research grant applications for research of a similar nature it may suggest collaboration between the researchers involved in the different applications. This would only be done with the consent of each applicant.
A VBA research grant may be used to fund reasonable travel expenses necessary to conduct the research. This will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Permitted and prohibited uses of funding provided under a VBA research grant will be set out in a funding agreement between the VBA and the grantee.
No. Funding provided under a research grant is not intended to be used to fund expenses such as laboratory infrastructure or specialist software that would be reasonably expected to be provided by the educational institution undertaking the research.
Permitted and prohibited uses of funding provided under a VBA research grant will be set out in a funding agreement between the VBA and the grantee.
No. Funding provided under a research grant cannot be used to fund delivery of a course. However, the VBA is open to supporting research that will help identify gaps in education and training, and opportunities to close those gaps.
The in-kind support the VBA may provide under a VBA research grant includes (but is not limited to):
- providing access to data, case studies or other information held by the VBA (subject to conﬁdentiality and privacy requirements being satisﬁed, and the resource implications for the VBA in providing this access).
- providing access to regulatory experts and technical specialists (for example, to review and advise on test speciﬁcations or be interviewed on a specific technical or regulatory issue).
The in-kind support will include VBA review and feedback on draft papers/reports arising from the supported research.
The VBA is open to considering suggestions for in-kind support on a case-by-case basis, as identiﬁed by applicants in their applications.
The VBA will not seek to own any Intellectual Property resulting from research supported through a VBA research grant (Funded IP). However, the VBA will require the grantee to grant the VBA a licence to use, reproduce and adapt the Funded IP for its own internal purposes and allow publishing of the Funded IP on the VBA’s intranet, website, media channels, and as otherwise agreed with the grantee. This will be a condition of a funding agreement between the VBA and the grantee.
The VBA will not provide advice or feedback on speciﬁc research ideas or proposals before they have been submitted and successful applications have been selected. However, the VBA can clarify the intention of the grant program and the outcomes the VBA is trying to achieve. If you have further questions, submit an enquiry to the VBA by email.