The Australian

Research route to stronger economy

- TIM DODD HIGHER EDUCATION EDITOR

The Group of Eight universiti­es have called on the federal government to boost support for early stage research commercial­isation with more funding and closer cooperatio­n between universiti­es and business.

In its submission to the government’s review of university research commercial­isation, the Go8 recommende­d a translatio­nal research fund be set up to mirror the successful Medical Research Future Fund, focusing on general science and technology, rather than health.

Go8 chief executive Vicki Thomson said the review was a “unique opportunit­y to effect significan­t change”.

“A committed ‘Team Australia’ approach is necessary, so that the three sectors — universiti­es, business, government — work genuinely together to build a stronger Australian economy,” she said. “To draw together and capitalise in the long-term on the thinking and building blocks discussed, the Go8 recommends the government establishe­s an Australian Translatio­nal Research Fund, at the heart of which is a nexus of people, ideas, and funding.”

The group called for enhanced “proof of concept” funding to support research at the early stage.

“This is where there are the highest risks and the greatest chances of falling into the socalled ‘ valley of death’,” the Go8 said. It also said universiti­es needed to give their researcher­s more incentive to work with industry.

In its submission to the review, the Australian Technology Network of Universiti­es called for an increased level of research funding to increase the output of discoverie­s and innovation that have commercial potential.

It also said investment in research and education should be more aligned with innovation and high-value industries and there should be additional support for commercial­isation activities which build partnershi­ps between universiti­es and business.

The ATN also recommende­d “collaborat­ive learning hubs” that co-located industry, education and training organisati­ons and encouraged more enterprise-based learning.

It said any new research commercial­isation scheme needed to be broadbased.

“In addition to direct funding, the scheme will need to be supported by training and capability building across the board — including researcher­s, commercial­isation experts, industry partners, students and graduates,” the ATN said in its submission.

Representi­ng all universiti­es, Universiti­es Australia said businesses needed more incentives to collaborat­e with universiti­es, and recommende­d a scheme to assist small to medium enterprise­s to deal with the risk and expense of developing research outcomes into saleable products and services.

UA also called for a commonweal­th-backed program of innovation vouchers that rewarded small businesses for collaborat­ing with university researcher­s.

It also drew attention to the German Steinbeis program, which disseminat­ed academic findings, specialise­d knowledge and technology from universiti­es to industry.

UA also called for improvemen­ts in the measuremen­t of research commercial­isation.

In its submission, the Co-operative Research Centres Associatio­n called on the government to boost collaborat­ive research with industry by boosting the CRC program. It said that, because the CRC program combined government financing with contributi­ons from industry and universiti­es, the return was, on average, three times the value of the commonweal­th’s contributi­on.

 ?? ISTOCK ?? Universiti­es are calling on government for help to commercial­ise research
ISTOCK Universiti­es are calling on government for help to commercial­ise research

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