Publicly funded research programs need to encourage collaboration between universities and end-users in order to boost business innovation, according to a new government report.
The report, titled Focusing Australia’s Publicly Funded Research, focuses on the opportunities and impediments to maximising the innovation dividend derived from publicly-funded research.
According to Innovation Minister Kim Carr, the government’s “innovation agenda” is working but there is room for improvement. The report outlines key findings and recommendations.
“Australia’s research system is highly productive and is generally performing well,” Carr said in a statement.
“But we can’t rest – we need to make sure that our investment in research is flowing into, and driving, the rest of the innovation agenda.”
“That is why the government has accepted four major recommendations from the review.”
One of the recommendations relates to the key finding that Australian businesses are informed by “leading edge thinking derived from excellent research”.
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“Compared to other OECD countries… Australia does not perform as strongly in the intensity of collaboration between industry and universities,” the report said.
“This lack of collaboration reduces the potential for Australia to maximise the opportunities available to successfully innovate.”
“There is a need for mechanisms to encourage universities to more effectively engage industry and other end-users in the conduct of research… including through direct research investment.”
“Greater incentives, for example, could be considered through changes to the current research funding allocation methods to eligible Australian universities.”
The report recommends that consideration be given to amend existing programs, within existing funding allocations, to encourage and reward collaboration between universities and end-users.
“Consideration should also be given to future initiatives to focus on ways to encourage and maximise the rewards for successful collaborations,” the report said.
A new Commonwealth committee, chaired by Professor Ian Chubb, will provide the government with advice on future research investments, including a national research investment plan.
Meanwhile, Senator Carr said his department will consult stakeholders to update and refine National Research Priorities.
This could potentially include a new NRP to better reflect the contribution of the humanities, arts and social sciences to Australia’s research enterprise.
The government will also undertake a feasibility study into the development of a mechanism to evaluate the wider economic, social and environmental benefits of research.
“This review confirms the critical importance of partnerships and shows that Australia needs to lift its intensity of collaboration between universities and industry,” Carr said.