Seed grants

Swinburne's seed-funding scheme is available to support interdisciplinary research projects - in particular those aligned to Swinburne's research institutes and those supporting our external partnership and collaboration objectives.

Grant focus and application

Up to $20,000 is available per seed grant project. The seed grant scheme is focused on supporting projects that address complex, societal and industry challenges in partnership with external organisations. These projects should relate to at least one of Swinburne's five research institutes: Data Science, Health Innovation, Manufacturing Futures, Smart Cities, and Social Innovation.

We are keen to receive Expressions of Interest for these grants, featuring game-changing ideas that will make a real impact while also building on our research excellence. We hope they will help us develop relationships with external partners in priority areas, as well as facilitating internal collaboration across Swinburne.

The seed grants have two key elements:

1. Institute-initiated projects

  • Enable institutes to develop projects with external partners and identify the best capability within Swinburne
  • Enable structured conversations and alignment with institute priorities
  • Institute directors will directly contact researchers with the relevant capability or run special calls.

2. Researcher-initiated projects

  • Enable participation of the research community (part of the institute engagement process)
  • Regular expressions of interests called for on a monthly basis, due on the last Friday of each month at 5pm.

Factsheet, guidelines and application form

Download previously successful seed grant proposals

The following proposals were successful in the first round of seed grant applications. You are encouraged to read them before submitting your own as exemplars of well-written proposals.

  • PDF

    Previous proposal 1 [PDF 859KB]

    News Savvy Seniors: Enhancing social inclusion through digital stories and social media participation (Dr Anthony McCosker)

More information

Data Science Research Institute

Director: Professor Timos Sellis

Hot topics for this research institute include:

  1. Complex large graph and network analysis using machine learning and pattern analysis (applications to social networks, intelligent transport, bioinformatics).
  2. Building innovative distributed and secure platforms under-pinned by blockchain and cybersecurity to enable seamless trade, finance and capital markets transactions (applications to supply-chain management, finance, banking, health).
  3. Personalised healthcare data, shifting from a healthcare system geared towards reactive, hospital-based treatment of acute conditions to one that is more community-based with a preventative and anticipatory approach (applications to health).
  4. Interactive, multi-dimensional analysis of data from observations, simulations, model fits and empirical relationships. Emerging machine learning techniques, such as Deep Learning, used to enhance and accelerate the path to discovery (applications to astronomy, health, creative arts, architecture and design).
  5. Data visualisation techniques for large-format two- and three-dimensional (stereoscopic) displays, tiled display walls, virtual reality headsets (applications to astronomy, health).
  6. New software platforms for cloud computing, edge/fog computing, cloud terminal fusion computing, distributed data managment and computing, and scalable data infrastructures (applications to the use of Internet of Things to smart cities, health).

Learn more about the successful projects already underway at this institute through the seed grants scheme:

Team members: Shakuntla Gondalia, Dr Ahsan Morshed, Professor Con Stough, Professor Andrew Scholey.

External partner: Soho Flordis International.

Project title and summary: i-Platform (Intelligent platform) for microbiota analysis and visualisation.

This project will develop a new methodology to allow us for the first time to describe how our gut bacteria (“microbiome”) are related to brain, cognitive and mood processes. This is a new research study and the development of science-based interventions for gut health will enormously impact the Australian economy. The extraction of knowledge from the ocean of microbiota data is a significant challenge. In partnership, SFI, the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology and Swinburne Data Science Research Institute will bring together leading expertise on gut microbiota, psychological health condition, data science and analytics to create the first intelligent platform for microbiota data visualization.

Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute

Director: Professor Gavin Lambert

Hot topics for this research institute include:

Personalised Healthcare

  1. Medication adherence interventions in oncology and MS.
  2. Online treatment decision aids.
  3. Wearables to reduce sitting and increase stepping in oncology.

Bioengineering

  1. Optical devices for stem cell recovery.
  2. Assistive technology for radiation oncology patients.
  3. Bridging the gap in neurobionics systems.

Improving Quality of Life in People with Disability

  1. Sensor based Technology and Health/Participation.
  2. Assistive technologies.
  3. Cardiovascular health and people with lifelong disabilities.

Learn more about the successful projects already underway at this institute through the seed grants scheme:

Team members: Michelle Lim, Associate Professor Sunil Bhar, Dr Abdullah Al Mahmud.

External partner: Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV).

Project title and summary: A digital prototype addressing loneliness in older adults.

Our partner, Relationship Australia Victoria (RAV), is a leading provider of family relationship services with an established profile in addressing loneliness in older adults. Our partnership will facilitate the development of a sound comprehensive digital tool, providing a one-stop solution to those at risk of developing loneliness and those who are suffering from loneliness. Use of digital solutions does not always promote the development of close relationships (1). An interdisciplinary psychology and human-computer interaction (HCI) approach will generate solutions to optimize content engagement, leading to real life outcomes in establishing positive and meaningful relationships (e.g., gamification or safe digital spaces).


Team members: Professor Tino Fuss, Dr Yehuda Weizman, Dr Oren Tirosh, Associate Professor Elisabeth Lambert, Dr Prem Prakash Jayaraman and Dr Kewen Liao.

External partner: RIZMIK and Cabrini Hospital.

Project title and summary: Wearable gait and neurological diagnostics system in the form of a smart insole.

A gait-based wearable musculoskeletal and neurological diagnostics system does not exist so far, mainly because of cost issues and unexplored advanced analytics. The need for collaboration with commercial and clinical partners lies in the effectiveness of co-development of such a diagnostics system to address the customers’ needs at an early stage. The interdisciplinary research covers analysis of gait, balance, activity and associated neurological disorders (including diabetes and dementia) for all age groups, including children in their development stage and the elderly. The project is aligned with the Health Innovation Institute and also partly with the Swinburne Data Science Research Institute.


Team members: Professor Anita Kocsis, Professor Peter Choong, Associate Professor Peter Dowsey, Dr Shaun Britton and Ms Nicole Symington.

External partner: Stryker, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, OPUS Centre for Research Excellence Total Joint Replacement.

Project title and summary: Flipping high-risk healthcare: A design-led service blueprint for surgical pathways.

Our partner, Stryker, is a leading global prosthetic manufacturer who is committed to performance research. This partnership will combine Stryker’s expertise in performance solutions, the Melbourne Design Factory’s process engineering expertise and the St. Vincent’s/University of Melbourne Department of Surgery team’s clinical and academic expertise to map the processes and stakeholder experiences for knee and hip replacement surgery. This will occur as a prelude to system redesign for a pathway for knee and hip replacements that is currently inefficient and costly. This research is imperative because the cost of wastages and complications of joint replacement surgery is not sustainable.

Manufacturing Futures Research Institute

Director: Professor Bronwyn Fox

Hot topics for this research institute include:

Design Driven Manufacturing Innovation

  1. Smart manufacturing – how can we pro-actively use data/information about products in use to adjust the design of the products within the same product generation (keyword: self-developing parts and components)?
  2. Personalisation of product and service offerings – how to specifically target the needs and wants of customers (adaptability, mobile connectivity and digital media, IoT are important here).
  3. Agility – how to flexibly adjust a company’s structure, design and manufacturing processes to changing requirements OR to become more creative and able to react to market trends.

Industrial Automation

  1. Process optimisation (utilise sensors, machine-to-machine communication and big data analysis for self diagnosis, automatic process optimisation, adaptive control and man-machine communication).
  2. Sensor integration (novel sensors, novel sensor applications, sensor fusion).
  3. Collaborative robots and novel robot applications (utilise robots for new applications in manufacturing, civil engineering, agriculture and medicine).

Learn more about the successful projects already underway at this institute through the seed grants scheme:

Team members: Yvonne Durandet, Professor Syed Masood, Associate Professor Dong Ruan, Dr Charles Ranscombe, Dr Ambarish Kulkarni.

External partners: CNH Industrial (IVECO Trucks Australia Ltd), Dandenong, Australia and CNH Industrial, Turin, Italy.

Project title and summary: Additive manufacturing of parts for IVECO trucks.

IVECO, a member company of global CNH Industrial group, wants to partner with Swinburne's Manufacturing Futures Research Institute to address industry challenges in the low volume and highly customized production of trucks in Australia. The aim of the proposed research is to assist IVECO determine where and how additive manufacturing can be viably used to produce lighter weight components to increase production flexibility while decreasing lead time, warehousing, and costs. An interdisciplinary team with capabilities in industrial design, mechanical, manufacturing and materials engineering at Swinburne will work with IVECO to identify potential parts to re-design for light weighting or consolidation, and manufacture via 3D printing route.


Team members: Dr Mehran Motamed Ektesabi, Saman Asghari Gorji, Dr Hassan Gholipour Fereidouni, Dr Amir Moradi Motlagh.

External partners: TJ Supply Limited Partnership, Naresuan University.

Project title and summary: IoT based Home Appliance Systems (Smart Fan).

The individual user’s comfort is one of the fundamental components of satisfaction. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air‐Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 55‐1992 describes the definition of thermal comfort as “the satisfaction of hot conditions and surroundings when the human body temperature balances with the heat”. Manufacturing new products with the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the innovative solutions that can improve this requirement: As the individual user’s profile satisfaction. This project aims to introduce a smart IoT based cooling fan with motion and human body temperature sensors. The proposed system captures, detects, identifies, and analyses real‐time data of individual users by face recognition algorithms. Then, the control unit automatically adjusts the cooling system based upon the thermal comfort of the individuals. The smartness of the system will increase the overall efficiency as well as the comfort, based on the previous captured data. This project is a multidisciplinary research study aiming to use the Economy of manufacturing, Marketing acceptance as well as the design and implementation for IoT.


Team members: Han Lin, Xuewen Wang, Scott Fraser.

External partners: Ningbo FLO Optical Technology Development Co. Ltd.

Project title and summary: 3D Laser Printed Ultra-thin Graphene Lenses for Human Vision Corrections.

In this project we aim to develop ultra-thin and ultra-light-weight eyeglasses with 3D laser-printed graphene oxide material based on our recent achievement in laser nanofabrication of graphene oxide ultrathin flat lens. We will collaborate with our external partner, Ningbo FLO Optical Technology Development Co. Ltd, which has more than 30-years expertise in clinical research, optometry, ophthalmology and opticianary, to design and fabricate prototype graphene eye glasses for human vision corrections, including presbyopia, myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. In addition, a large-scale manufacturing process suitable for industrial production will be developed.


Team members: Dr Nishar Hameed, Professor Tino Fuss, Dr Yehuda Weizman and Professor Alan Lau.

External partners: Imagine Intelligent Materials.

Project title and summary: Graphene reinforced smart composites.

Cost effective sensors and efficient monitoring techniques have the potential to revolutionise the application and performance of large scale automotive and aerospace composite structures. The industry partner in this project, Imagine Intelligent Materials, have identified graphene as a potential material to create smart composites that can sense and report real-time dimensional changes in composites. The challenge here is to establish the feasibility of graphene as a potential piezoresistive nanomaterial and optimise the process to monitor the structural changes in composites. This project combines the unique expertise at Swinburne in composite manufacturing and sensor technologies to develop graphene reinforced smart composites. 

Smart Cities Research Institute

Director: Professor Mark Burry

Hot topics for this research institute include:

Future Spaces for Living

  1. How can we design smart home technologies that support older adults living independently in their own homes through user-friendly access to online government and health services?
  2. How can interactive mobile technologies help shape the future of work, proving just-in-time and just-in-place information to support complex work tasks?
  3. How can ubiquitous technologies be designed to transform urban public spaces for sustained liveability, while enhancing the safety and wellbeing of city-dwelling citizens?

Future Urban Infrastructure

  1. If people are convinced to install battery storage, why are they not convinced to drink recycled water?
  2. How can we put big data in citizens’ hands, so that they can be active yet responsible designers of their own cities?
  3. How can we utilise robotic and adaptive technologies, long established on the factory floor, to both fabricate and disassemble urban environments to suit changing needs?

Learn more about the successful projects already underway at this institute through the seed grants scheme:

Team members: Professor Jane Burry, Dr James Marshall, Dr James Berrett, Dr Stu Favilla, and Associate Professor Christopher Fluke.

External partners: Mirvac and Grimshaw Architects.

Project title and summary: Media art as urban story telling: Australian opportunities for data-driven content on large format screens.

This project aligns with the Swinburne Smart Cities Research Institute to investigate the contemporary opportunities of the big silent screen to meet the social and artistic agendas of major urban developer Mirvac and Grimshaw Architects. The research explores the potential of combining artistic digital production and data science to both captivate a transient audience and to reveal the headline environmental and social stories concealed within big urban data. The work will address an audience at work and on the move in the heart of the city and will lead to a long term and very public screening.


Team members: Dr John McCormick, Professor Kim Vincs, Dr Troy Innocent, and Associate Professor Christopher Fluke.

External partners: Appearition.

Project title and summary: Serious Business Games: Drawing on immersive games experiences to develop tools for workplace support in the digital economy.

Disruptive technologies are reshaping the workplace. It will require not only new technology but new understandings of work to support these changes.This project combines Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), informed by decades of game design, to develop a support platform for future modes of collaboration, workplace learning, and decision making. A transdisciplinary research team from Games and Interactivity, Immersive Experiences and Data Visualisation will work with Appearition, a Melbourne company specializing in business applications of AR and the Swinburne Smart Cities Research Institute, to develop a prototype platform for supporting future workplace models in urban environments rich in IoT technologies.


Team members:  Dr Ellis Judson, Dr Farnaz Zirakbash, Dr Angela Spinney, and Dr Peter Graham.

External partners: United Housing Cooperative.

Project title and summary: Renewable Energy Retrofitting and Energy Poverty in Low‐income Households.

This project analyses the effectiveness of photovoltaic (PV) installations and energy performance feedback (awareness of energy consumption) in alleviating energy poverty and managing energy consumption in low‐income co‐operative housing tenants. The project will conduct pre and post installation energy audits, monitor energy consumption and conduct interviews with tenants to map tenants’ needs, understanding and expectations. Effectiveness is evaluated by 1) understanding whether photovoltaic (PV) installations and energy performance affects the risks of energy poverty and energy deprivation in low‐income families; 2) assessment of the social and financial cost‐benefit of PV installations in co‐operative housing. The project will inform subsequent extension of PV installations for the co‐operative housing organisation partner and the sector more generally. The project is a collaboration between Swinburne University of Technology and United Housing, a co‐operative housing organization providing affordable rental accommodation to low‐income families, couples and singles in the western suburbs of Melbourne. United Housing are planning to retrofit eight of their houses with photovoltaic panels, and would like to understand their benefits and costs, and the potential for scaling up this program to include all properties managed by the co‐operative (currently UHC has 102 properties in its portfolio).

Social Innovation Research Institute

Director: Professor Jane Farmer

Hot topics for this research institute include:

Digital Participation

  1. Anything around marginalised, hard to reach groups and their use of technology, or
  2. use of technologies to engage them in services, or
  3. design or co-design of technologies by marginalised participants,

particularly:

  • service landscapes
  • peer support
  • blockchain, AI, machine learning, predictive analysis, NLP and social media analytics.

Social Architecture of Innovation

  • Anyone looking at social connection, novel applications of network theory, influencers, behaviour measurement or assessment using technology.

Social Value

  • The role of technology in pursuing good in society – technology and democracy, spotting fake from ‘real’ news, measuring social or public value using technology, dashboards, sensors, IoT generally, crypto-currencies that involve social rather than monetary value.

Working and Living with Technologies

  1. Novel applications of AR, VR and XR.
  2. Sustainable technologies.
  3. Implications of new technology and the digital economy for communities, families and society.
  4. Use of bots and robots in social and community services.
  5. Effects of the digital economy on work and inequality and how to ameliorate for this.

Learn more about the successful projects already underway at this institute through the seed grants scheme:

Team members: Anthony McCosker, Dr Diana Bossio, Dr Hilary Davis, Dr Max Schlese.

External partners: Telstra, Knox City Council, Boroondara City Council.

Project title and summary: News Savvy Seniors: Enhancing social inclusion through digital stories and social media participation.

This project develops and evaluates a community-based intervention addressing the difficulties in sustaining digital skills development and social inclusion among older Australians. Partnering with Telstra and two local Melbourne Councils, the project team will develop and evaluate a workshop series and skills development model involving seniors in digital storytelling and social media. The model has dual aims: a) to empower seniors to connect with each other; to participate in local communities and to provide feed-back to local governments using digital devices and social media platforms, and b) to embed sustainable digital engagement practices into existing localised training processes to improve digital inclusion outcomes.


Team members: Michael Moran, Associate Professor Carolyn Barnes, Associate Professor Fiona Martin, Krystian Seibert.

External partner: Justice Connect.

Project title and summary: Co-designing social enterprise legal models in Australia: a user-centred approach.

A long-running debate in Australia’s not-for-profit (NFP) sector is whether social enterprises need a special legal structure to facilitate access to capital through equity investments while preserving their mission-focus. Debate splits between promoting US-style Benefit Corporations and hybrid legal forms such as the UK’s Community Interest Company, but lacks substantial empirical evidence about the needs of end-user enterprises. The project aims to bridge this gap by collaborating with Justice Connect – the largest pro-bono legal service for NFPs – and end-users to co-design contextually-appropriate models for Australian social enterprises. It teams NFP lawyers with academics in law, design, and social innovation to mobilise end-user knowledge in public policy design.


Team members: Dr Justin Trounson, Associate Professor Rachael McDonald and Dr Andrew Peters.

External partners: Yooralla.

Project title and summary: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement in Disability Services.

Indigenous Australians are at substantially higher risk of experiencing a disability compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Therefore, the provision of culturally-appropriate disability services is fundamental to ensuring optimum care and engagement. Yooralla is the largest provider of disability services in the state of Victoria, and has partnered with researchers from Swinburne University of Technology to investigate how the organisation can effectively and respectfully support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with a disability. Under the guidance of the First Peoples Disability Network this Indigenous-led multidisciplinary team will work to gain a better understanding of the barriers to accessing disability services experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Team members: Associate Professor Dean Lusher, Dr Sam Wilson, Dr Kewen Liao, Dr Arezou Soltani Panah, Dr Peng Wang, Dr Anthony McCosker and Professor Jane Farmer.

External partners: Australian Red Cross.

Project title and summary: Humanitarian Action Across Australia.

Australian Red Cross has an ambitious agenda to engage more than 2.5 million people in voluntary humanitarian action by 2020. In partnership with Swinburne Social Innovation Research Institute, this project will tackle four key areas to better understand and build humanitarian action in Australia. The project will create insights into where humanitarian action is already taking place, where growth might occur, how corporations might be involved, how a giving marketplace might be created, and create social value measurement technologies and value dashboards.


Team members: Kay Cook, Jennifer Martin, Kath Albury, Farnaz Zirakbash, Jean-Guy Schneider, Jessica Mackelprang, Ashir Ahmed, Abdullah Al Mahmud, Mannera Bono.

External partners: Family Life and Life Without Barriers.

Project title and summary: Doing better for vulnerable young parents and their children: an exploration of how the use of technology could catalyse system transformation.

This project will involve collaboration with service users and non-users, front-line staff and organisational managers to: (1) co-design a service interface that assists vulnerable young parents to access, engage with and benefit from parenting resources, and (2) develop a prototype of service learning for ongoing service transformation. For young parents, our focus is on making parenting resources accessible at the times and locations young people prefer and in the methods most relevant to them, particularly during times of acute stress or crisis. By co-designing a service interface, the project aims to increase inclusion and participation of vulnerable young parents, and in doing so, to address their health and wellbeing challenges. The overarching objective is to support young parents, such that entries into the child protection system may be averted and family outcome optimised. In doing do, we seek to identify how co-design principles can be embedded into ongoing practice. Given the scale, complexity of the issue and interdisciplinarity of the project, 12 months is required to complete the project and ensure the team is well placed to secure ARC Linkage funding to pursue the development of the identified solution. 


Team members: Dr Hilary Davis, Dr Arezou Soltani Panah, Dr Koti Ivaturi, Ali Yavari and Professor Timos Sellis.

External partners: Parenting Research Centre.

Project title and summary: Digital Data/Survey management system for continuous quality improvement.

A key challenge for any social innovation is to determine its effectiveness and impact. This is increasingly important as public funding becomes more competitive to attract, and requires a clear Return on Investment (ROI). In light of this challenge, the proposed project involves the development of an innovative data capture and reporting solution for the Parenting Research Centre (PRC). PRC is a non-profit organisation tasked with developing and assessing the effectiveness of programs for families and parents, particularly in low socio-economic communities. The proposed tool will provide PRC and their partner organisations the means to measure the impact of social and community programs in real-time and in remote areas. Through this platform, PRC and partner organisations will collect continuous real time information about the implementation and impact of programs from multiple stakeholders including the program administrators and those receiving support. The platform will allow data to be captured through multiple sources such as smart phones, sms texts, tablets, laptops, desktop etc., and would also allow PRC and partner organisations to customise their program evaluation framework (ex-ante, in-itinere, and ex-post assessment). A key component of this project is that the final tool will be co-designed with multiple stakeholders including PRC, their partner organisations, and end users. This will help ensure the tool is an intuitive and interactive platform, which meets the required reporting requirements while providing real-time insights that can be used to improve the effectiveness of PRC’s social programs.