Can universities do more – or get more help – in commercialising research to drive the economic growth we need post COVID-19? And how can we facilitate more collaboration between university research and business? It might sound like a familiar refrain, after the $1.1 billion NISA (National Innovation and Science Agenda) was announced in December 2015.
But NISA petered out after 4 years, and the fact that the questions are being asked – and the consultation is happening – is being welcomed by Australia’s top bodies including Science & Technology Australia and the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS).
Minister the Hon Alan Tudge released the University Research Commercialisation consultation paper on Feb 26 seeking feedback into these questions.
“I want to see new ideas on how we can increase collaboration between business and universities and put our research at the heart of our economic recovery,” Minister Tudge said.
“We want our high-quality research to better translate into the breakthrough products, new businesses and ideas we need to grow our economy and improve our society.
“COVID provides a unique opportunity to reassess university business models and better leverage research to grow our economy and generate Australian jobs.
“I will work with any university that is prepared to take a bold approach.”
It’s time to “level up”
Peak body Science & Technology Australia welcomed the initiative and said university science is ready to “level up”, calling for a $2.4 billion Science Future Fund.
“Australian science is ready, willing and able to answer that call,” said Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert.
ACDS joined the call for funding similar to the long-established Biomedical Research Translation Fund that fed $500m into medical research translation in 2015-2017.
“We strongly support the proposal for a non-medical research translation fund and a comprehensive long-term national plan for science and technology,” they stated in a press release.
“Such a scheme will enable the great work by University science in areas like environmental science, agriculture, chemistry and physics, to contribute to global challenges like food and water security, climate change, renewable energy and smart materials.”