The next 25 years of Australian R&D

May 18, 2015

Australia’s world-leading Cooperative Research Centres program will be celebrating 25 years of science impact and achievement at its annual conference in Canberra on 25 May.

Federal cabinet ministers, CRC program leaders and policy experts will discuss the research challenges of the next 25 years in areas such as manufacturing, health, communications and the development of Australia’s north next week as part of the Australia 2040 forum.

The designs, products and services developed by CRCs are part of our everyday life; from soft contact lenses and tooth mousse that helps repair dental enamel to new materials for aircraft wing surfaces that reduce fuel use and cut global carbon emissions. In food alone, CRCs have transformed the quality of Australian lamb, assessed salt tolerance in rice, improved the health of commercial pig herds, and developed new strategy for fisheries in the face of rising ocean temperatures.

The CRCs were established in 1990 to bring scientists and industries together to work on some of the biggest challenges facing Australia. These have included better bushfire science, manufacturing, digital technology, biosecurity, sustainable farming, water management and mental health issues underpinning the unacceptably high suicide rate among young people.

“The CRCs are an Australian success story. They were designed to create research impact, and their 25 year record of achievement speaks for itself,” says CRC Association chief executive Dr Tony Peacock.

“It’s a unique program and it works equally well across economic, social and environmental research areas. The critical factor in their success is that each CRC has well-defined goals and their management, research and industry investors all agree on those goals and work toward them.”

Peacock says economic analysis has shown that while the CRCs represent less than 1.6% of Federal science funding, they drive a further $4 in investment for every dollar invested by the government.

“The CRCs have always aimed for what is now recognised as vitally important to Australia’s future – creating research impact,” he says.

The CRC’s annual conference will open on 25 May, with former CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark delivering the Ralph Slatyer address on science and society at the Australian War Memorial theatre.

On 26 May, there will be a one-day forum at Parliament House, where speakers will include Federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane, communication minister Malcolm Turnbull and CRC leaders Dr Jane Burns (Young & Well CRC), Professor Mike Aitken (Capital Markets CRC) and Professor Murray Scott (CRC for Advanced Composite Structures).

Details of the conference program can be found at

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