The €15.7 million (AU$22.8 million) network will be led by RMIT's European hub in Barcelona – RMIT Europe – and involve 37 universities across France and Australia.
Co-funded by the European Commission, along with RMIT and partners, the five-year project will employ 64 early career doctoral researchers, with a focus on generating industry-relevant research.
The researchers will be mentored by experienced supervisors from academia and industry and receive training and support including annual workshops and group events.
Speaking at the Australian Embassy in France, RMIT University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Alec Cameron said AUFRANDE was set to spark a new generation of high performing early-stage researchers.
Australian and French research ecosystems are being connected at scale in a way never done before.
This is only possible thanks to the unique positioning of RMIT's European hub, able to act as a bridge between the two countries through its detailed knowledge of how research funding works in both regions."
Professor Alec Cameron, RMIT University Vice-Chancellor and President
Australia's Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Gillian Bird, said establishing the network marked a significant collaboration between the two nations.
"I'm so pleased to see Australia and France's relationship further strengthen through collaborative research," she said.
AUFRANDE partner École Centrale de Lyon's Director of Research, Professor Christophe Corre, welcomed this opportunity to intensify and diversify research collaborations, with an expected significant impact on several acute scientific and technological issues.
"From photonics and nanotechnology to acoustics and energetics, brilliant young researchers will find exciting AUFRANDE PhD positions in Centrale Lyon laboratories," he said.
The award of AUFRANDE consolidates RMIT Europe's expertise in leading large scale multi-partner international PhD programs, following the award of REDI last year, which links RMIT with 24 partners in 10 countries.
The new network will also establish a significant number of co-supervision agreements between French and Australian partners, laying the groundwork for continued high levels of collaboration well beyond the project's end.
Researchers will be employed at French academic institutions and spend up to one year on secondment at an Australian university. They'll receive both French and Australian doctoral degrees upon successful completion of their research.
Other Australian partners include UNSW Sydney, The University of Tasmania, Macquarie University and The University of Sydney. See the full list: https://bit.ly/3p2CYe0.
The first group of PhD candidates will be recruited from a worldwide hiring campaign expected to begin in early 2023.