The Australian Research Council (ARC) will take on a new direction as the Morrison Government seeks to realise the significant opportunities for Australia in the 21st century and secure our economic recovery from the pandemic.
Acting Minister for Education and Youth, Stuart Robert, has outlined reforms the ARC will enact in 2022 to better leverage Australia’s world-class university research sector to support Australia’s economy and society. These reforms, outlined in a letter of expectations to the ARC, set out this new approach.
The Morrison Government will work with the ARC to support a stronger governance structure so it can continue to respond to the challenges of aligning research programs to national priorities and the opportunities arising from the Government’s research reform agenda.
Under the reforms, the ARC will play a vital role in the Morrison Government’s research commercialisation agenda and will better align its investments to strengthen the translational research pipeline—helping to drive economic growth and recovery. ARC’s investments were 6.8 per cent of the Government’s investment in research and development or $807 million, in 2020-21.
Minister Robert said the new direction was designed to ensure the ARC could better harness the benefits of publicly funded research to help the nation, particularly as it recovers from the pandemic.
‘The ARC will align its Linkage programs with the Government’s research commercialisation agenda. For future rounds, the ARC will recommend 70 per cent of its applied research grants fall under the six National Manufacturing Priorities,’ Mr Robert said.
‘The ARC will also strengthen the National Interest Test by enhancing industry and other end-users’ involvement and improve transparency in the grants process.’
‘The Morrison Government remains committed to a strong publicly funded research agenda in Australia’s universities, particularly the blue-sky research delivered through the ARC Discovery Program, because we know the opportunity to commercialise research can only arise from high-quality basic research.’
ARC Chief Executive Officer, Professor Sue Thomas, has advised the Government that she will not seek an extension to her contract and will step down from the role on 31 January 2022. The Morrison Government thanks Professor Thomas for her time at the helm of the ARC.