Pour billions into new research translation fund, Australia told

Significant additional funding needed to realise Canberra’s commercialisation goals, say scientists

一月 26, 2022
Sydney, Australia - March 10, 2017. El Alamein fountain at Fitzroy Gardens in Sydney, with commercial properties and people.
Source: iStock

Scientists have urged Australia to create a multibillion-dollar research translation fund to allow more breakthrough discoveries to be developed and manufactured onshore.

Canberra has identified boosting the commercial returns from university research as its top priority for the sector, but more funding will be needed to support this goal, says representative body Science & Technology Australia (STA).

In a pre-budget submission, the organisation urges the investment of A$2.4 billion (£1.3 billion) in a research translation fund to help bolster Australia’s advanced manufacturing capability.

The new fund, says STA, would enable “more of Australia’s ‘almost there’ breakthroughs to be developed and manufactured here in Australia. This would create new industries, new jobs, and generate new markets as well as enable ‘billion-dollar unicorns’ to boost Australia’s economic recovery.”

The submission also says the government should invest A$3 million in a “bench to boardroom” training programme for up to 2,000 scientists, giving them the skills needed to lead the commercialisation of their research discoveries. STA argues that it could deliver such a training scheme.

Other key requests in the submission include:

  • Boosting Australia’s research and development investment – currently 1.8 per cent of gross domestic product – to 3 per cent, surpassing the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development average of 2.5 per cent
  • Increasing the budgets of the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council to A$1 billion each
  • Deepening investment in climate science research and clean energy technologies.

The submission also argues that Australia must do more to tackle job insecurity in science to stem the loss of talented researchers to other sectors and other nations. STA says the country should shift more research grants on to longer timescales of five to seven years, and that it should adopt fixed timelines for grant announcements to give applicants greater certainty.

Misha Schubert, STA’s chief executive, said Australia should “use the next federal budget to fund science like our lives and our economy depend on it – because they do”.

“We should heed the lessons of the pandemic and ‘double down’ on our investments in science to see off major threats and seize new economic opportunities for Australia,” she said.

“As we enter the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s never been clearer that Australia needs the deep expertise of scientists to navigate this historic challenge – and many others.”




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