Platforms Program

Digital tools and infrastructure for researchers from all disciplines
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The Challenge

Given the increasing volume and complexity of data, software tools are essential for researchers to access and analyse that data. This software is often deployed through platforms, which support reproducibility and provide access to enabling underpinning infrastructure such as storage and compute.

The Approach

Through our Platforms Program, we co-invested in platform infrastructure to increase the number of researchers with access to platforms, both the absolute number and the diversity of disciplines. This program also supported a community of platform developers and managers.

What is a research platform?

We define a research platform as a set of online services that enable researchers to collect or generate data, analyse those data, and produce outputs that can be made findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR). They often include associated integration and/or orchestration functions and connections to specific data resources.

Platforms are also called virtual research environments, science gateways or virtual laboratories.

Investment approach

We took a two-stage approach to making investments in platforms, beginning with a call for expressions of interest (EOI) followed by a request for proposal (RFP).

Prior to the ARDC’s formation, the Nectar Research Cloud supported the development of research platforms through its Virtual Laboratories and eResearch Tools programs. Many of these have been enhanced and continue to support their research communities, along with platforms developed under this program.


Two open calls were conducted in 2019-2020, using a two-stage process. The EOI phase facilitated collaboration between researchers, research groups, research organisations and communities around a proposed platform investment. We received 86 EOIs in 2019 and 77 in 2020.

The  subsequent RFP phase was a competitive funding call and was only open to those who submitted an EOI and their collaborators. In 2019 we received 44 proposals, and 48 in 2020. This process resulted in:

  • 10 projects in the 2019 round, attracting $12 million in ARDC co-investment
  • 16 projects in the 2020 round,  attracting $9.7 million in ARDC co-investment


The projects have launched platforms that support disciplines across the research sector. You can access these and more ARDC-supported research platforms from our website.

A number of platforms are being enhanced through our Thematic Research Data Commons initiative. Read about our 3 Thematic Research Data Commons:

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