Making most of Uni research

Boosting support to make the most of university research will lead to new jobs, products and companies, and support Australia’s economic recovery.

In its response to the University Research Commercialisation consultation paper, Universities Australia has recommended identifying direct incentives that would support business to partner with universities and research organisations.

Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the sector welcomed the Government’s focus on the potential of research commercialisation and translation to economic recovery.

“From Cochlear to CSL, Australia has demonstrated time and again that we have the skill and the smarts to compete with the best,” Ms Jackson said.

“Ensuring we make the most of our world class research is a joint project. Government, industry and universities need to work together to deliver the economic and social rewards from great Aussie know-how.”

“Universities will continue to pursue world-class research and reach out to industry to allow ideas and people to flow back and forth.”

“But when it comes to spotting the commercial potential of an idea and launching it into the marketplace, that’s where business comes in.”

“Direct business and industry support programs are important here. Around the world we’ve seen how this sort of direct government support leads to real research partnerships and real breakthrough products – from the highly successful US genetic start-up 23andMe to CPR technology that saves lives.”

Ms Jackson said 86 per cent of Australia’s business research support effort was ‘indirect incentives’ like the R&D Tax Incentive, compared to 38 per cent for the US.

“Businesses need direct support to lower risks and overcome upfront costs,” Ms Jackson said.

“When business and universities work together, with the support of Government, that is when you get results.”

The submission recommends:

  • investigate scaling up the current Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) – modelled on the highly successful US Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR program);
  • investigate a program like the US Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program to complement a revamped BRII;
  • look at boosting R&D through a small business vouchers scheme, like the NSW TechVouchers scheme;
  • investigate a technology transfer network like the German Steinbeis system; and
  • reinstate robust measurements of research commercialisation to track whether Australia is making progress in this important policy area.

Universities Australia’s submission can be found here.

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