The Morrison Government’s $2.2 billion University Research Commercialisation (URC) Action Plan places university innovation and industry collaboration front and centre of Australia’s economic recovery.
Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said the Action Plan sets out the reform priorities that will supercharge the generation and translation of Australian research into new commercial products that will provide the basis of the innovative new businesses and jobs of the future.
“This Action Plan provides an overarching strategy for research commercialisation to create the next generation of great Australian products and companies. It is supported by our captains of industry and research, and backed by $2.2 billion in new investment,” Minister Robert said.
“This is a game changer for commercialisation and innovation in Australia.”
The Action Plan will drive reforms in four areas:
- placing national manufacturing priorities at the core of Australian Government-funded research
- priority-driven schemes to ramp up commercialisation activity
- university research funding reform to strengthen incentives for genuine collaboration with industry, and
- investing in people who are skilled in university–industry collaboration.
The mechanisms to drive these reforms are:
- $243 million over five years for the Trailblazer Universities program to boost prioritised R&D and drive commercialisation outcomes with industry partners
- $1.6 billion over 10 years for Australia’s Economic Accelerator – a new stage-gated competitive funding program to help university projects bridge the so called ‘valley of death’ on the road to commercialisation
- a $150 million capital injection to expand the CSIRO Main Sequence Ventures program, which backs start-up companies and helps create commercial opportunities from Australian research
- $296 million to be invested in 1800 industry PhDs and over 800 in fellows over 10 years
- the creation of a new IP Framework for universities to support greater university-industry collaboration and the uptake of research outputs.
“Our universities generate exciting, world-leading research, while Australian businesses and industry are the commercial and employment engine rooms of the economy,” Minister Robert said.
“The University Research Commercialisation Action Plan brings these elements together to create the closer collaborative relationships that we need to focus the considerable research power of our universities on to address Australia’s national economic and industry priorities.
“It also invests in the financial support necessary to take new ideas and foster their development as they step and test their way towards commercialisation, and the new products and innovative technologies that provide the basis for new businesses and jobs.”
The Action Plan was the product of over 12 months of extensive consultation with business and research leaders, led by the University Research Commercialisation Taskforce, and builds on best practice experience in Australia and internationally.
“The Morrison Government’s University Research Commercialisation Action Plan will create stronger links between business and industry and focus effort in the six National Manufacturing Priority areas to drive commercial returns,” Minister Robert said
“To truly realise the potential of collaboration, we need to strengthen ties between academia and industry, and embed those ties into the research career pathway,” Minister Robert said.
Latest available data shows that only 40% of Australia’s researchers work in private industry, well below the OECD average.
“Under our plan, we will triple the number of industry PhDs by adding 1,800 industry PhDs and over 800 industry Fellows over ten years,” Minister Robert said.
“These new opportunities will create a clear and structured research career pathway that will support ongoing interactions between universities and industry, while also equipping early career researchers to transform their ideas into commercial success.”
Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the Action Plan was designed to generate jobs and economic benefits from Australian research.
“The program will help Australia reap the benefits of our world-class research and build the industries of the future,” Minister Taylor said.
The first step of the Action Plan is already underway with eight university proposals shortlisted to share in $243 million funding to work closely with industry on national manufacturing priorities.
Chair of the Government’s Research Commercialisation Taskforce and Chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia, Jeff Connolly, welcomed the Government’s action plan. He said it was clear to the taskforce that the best outcomes for Australia’s economy and people will come from new approaches from government, within universities and from business and industry.
“This Action Plan provides a strong basis for building on the excellent foundation that exists in our university sector and will ensure that systemic opportunities are there for every researcher who wants to pursue a commercial opportunity, and every business who wants to work with our universities,” Mr Connolly said.
Chair of Industry Innovation and Science Australia and member of the Research Commercialisation Taskforce, Andrew Stevens said: “This is a significant and bold investment by the Australian Government that transforms the environment in which universities and industry engage and it has the potential to both create new opportunities to grow our economy and create jobs and make businesses more competitive.”
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said: “We know that connecting great research across all Australia’s universities, with real world problems in industry, is the key to translating science into real world solutions.”
“Accelerating and focusing research on the problems that really matter to Australians will help us recover faster from the economic and social impacts of COVID, and make us more resilient to future disruptions.”
The URC Action Plan is available at: https://www.dese.gov.au/university-research-commercialisation-package/resources/university-research-commercialisation-action-plan