Antiviral Development for COVID-19



Notice of Intent (NOI) registration OPEN

10am, 3 April 2020 (Friday)

Draft Grant Proposal due to RIC for strategic review. Early submission encouraged.

10am, 3 April 2020 (Friday)

Draft application due to RIC for compliance and eligibility check (including other supporting documents, if applicable

10am, 8 Apr 2020 (Tuesday)

Authority to Submit due to RIC

5pm, 13 Apr 2020 (Monday)

Final application submitted to RIC

12pm, 14 Apr 2020 (Tuesday)

Final application submitted to NHMRC


The objective of the 2020 Antiviral Development for COVID-19 grant opportunity is to identify antiviral candidates targeting SARS-CoV-2 (new and repurposed) and accelerate promising effective treatments that can be made available to treat Australians infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Given the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, the grant opportunity requires applicants to propose research to rapidly identify antiviral candidates that can be accelerated into clinical practice. A competitive two stage funding process will be used.

Stage 1
Funding of up to $3 million will be provided to support testing of up to 10 antiviral candidates for stability, safety and effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 to demonstrate proof of concept. Stage 1 projects are to be completed within 9 months of commencement of Stage 1. In addition:
* applicants will be required to define performance indicators and outcomes to be achieved with Stage 1 funding that are critical for the research to progress to Stage 2
* successful achievement of these performance indicators and outcomes is a prerequisite to seek Stage 2 funding
* successful applicants will be required to deliver a completion report for Stage 1 (see section 11.3 of the Guidelines) that:

  • measures success against performance indicators and demonstrates achievement of outcomes in Stage 1; and
  • formalises performance indicators and outcomes for Stage 2.

Stage 2
Funding of up to $5 million will support acceleration of promising antiviral candidates from Stage 1 into clinical practice, enabling clinical trials in humans, progression through regulatory pathways and/or transition to commercialisation. Stage 2 projects are to be completed within 24 months of commencement of Stage 2. In addition:
* Stage 1 grantees may be eligible for up to $5 million under Stage 2.
* Stage 2 funding will be awarded to the most expedient grantee(s) to complete Stage 1, subject to demonstration of success against performance indicators and achievement of outcomes under Stage 1.
* The data and evidence in the Stage 1 completion report will be considered by assessment panel members involved in the awarding of Stage 1 grants to determine if they achieved success against performance indicators and outcomes under Stage 1.
* Completion reports (see section 11.3 of the Guidelines) will be categorised as either: successful, marginal or unsuccessful.

  • If categorised as successful, a recommendation will be made to the delegate to fund.
  • If categorised as marginal, the grantee will have one opportunity to respond to identified concerns or matters of clarification in writing. This response will be considered by the assessment panel in making a final recommendation.
  • If categorised as unsuccessful, a recommendation will be made to the delegate not to fund and no opportunity to respond will be provided.
    * For clarity, the review of completion reports will not be a reassessment against the assessment criteria.
    * Stage 1 grantees that do not have the opportunity to request Stage 2 funding because it has already been awarded, will be notified and encouraged to seek alternative funding avenues.

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate capacity to quickly establish partnerships that will provide access to critical resources necessary to complete the project. This may include access to SARS-CoV-2 material, relevant animal models and appropriate biohazard containment facilities. Applicants should also provide details of how funding will leverage other complementary funding sources.


For this grant opportunity, the Australian Government has announced a total of $8 million through the MRFF. There is up to $3 million of funding available in 2019-20 for Stage 1 and up to $5 million in 2020-21 for Stage 2.


Stage 1 must be completed within 9 months of Stage 1 funding commencing.
Stage 2 must be completed within 24 months of Stage 2 funding commencing.


- This grant opportunity is not for vaccine development or respiratory medicine research. These issues are the subject of separate MRFF grant opportunities

- A person must not be named as a Chief Investigator (CI) on more than one application submitted to this grant opportunity.

- It is generally required that, at the time of application submission, the CIA is an Australian citizen or is a permanent resident in Australia (see also section 6.4 of the Guidelines). The research proposal must involve CIA being based in Australia for the duration of the grant.

- The proposed research should not duplicate research previously or currently being undertaken. The NHMRC may compare the research proposed in grant applications with grants previously or currently funded by the MRFF, NHMRC or other agencies (e.g. Australian Research Council) and published research (see also section 4.7 – Other ineligible expenditure)

How to apply

  1. Notice of Intent: Please register your Notice of Intent if you are considering applying for the this grant opportunity.  RIC-MRFF team will then contact each applicant with further information.
  2. Update/complete Sapphire Profile: Each CI will need to obtain access to the Sapphire to complete this step. Applicants (including all Chief Investigators and Associate Investigators) are required to submit a registration form available on the Sapphire Landing Page. NHMRC copied RGMS users’ CV/Profile data from RGMS for migration into Sapphire on Wednesday 12 February 2020 after 5.00pm (AEDT). Any changes made to an RGMS profile after this date have not been replicated in Sapphire.
  3. Review documentation: Review the grant guidelines and category descriptors available below and at Grant Connect.
  4. Create and Complete the application:  Log in to Sapphire, select the relevant grant opportunity to complete the application.
  5. Submit “Review Ready” application to RIC: Submit application to RIC within the RIC internal submission period for review.
  6. Complete application: After taking feedback from the RIC team into consideration, complete the application in RGMS. It is suggested advice is sought from colleagues, Faculty Mentors, etc. before finalising the application.
  7. Submit the UoM Authority to Submit Form:
  8. This form must be submitted to RIC electronically by the final internal closing date. The form should include:

    • CIA and Head of Department/Institute Director signatures

    Written evidence (e.g. email) from all CIs and AIs is no longer required for applications submitted via Sapphire. Accepting an invitation to participate in an application constitutes a written agreement to be named on an application. CIAs cannot submit an application for RAO certification until all research team members on their application have accepted the invitation.

    This is an NHMRC requirement and the application cannot be submitted to NHMRC until received.

  9. Final Submission:
  10. On the final internal closing date, the applicant must:

    • Certify the application via the ‘Certification’ function in the left panel of your Sapphire application. The applicant will be given the opportunity to download their application and attachments prior to the two-stage confirmation prompt before submission. The application will be locked once certified and status then will be Submitted to RAO.
    • Email RIC as well as a scanned, signed Authority to Submit form.
    • Should you require further information please contact Alvin Wong on 83449352 or via email
  11. RIC will submit the application: Once the application has been submitted to NHMRC, you will receive an email from RIC confirming submission.

Supporting documents

NHMRC Documents

Grant Guidelines

Assessment Criteria

Rating Scale for Overall Value and Risk

Stage 2 budget pro forma - NEW

RIC Documents

Summary and Tips - Please contact the MRFF team to discuss

Grant Proposal template - with Assessment Criteria

Authority to Submit Form


MRFF questions and primary email

Key Contacts

Alvin Wong and Catherine Nobes
T: Alvin - +61 3 8344 9352; Catherine - +61 3 8344 1471