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Universities expected to lift business sector out of innovation doldrums

Posted 7 December 2015 by Andrew MacDonald (NTEU National Office)

The release today of the Turnbull government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda acknowledges the need for policies to improve the research and development (R&D) and innovation performance of Australian business, which lags well behind comparable countries, says the National Tertiary Education Union.

The agenda has a number of initiatives including significant tax breaks for private sector investment in innovative start-ups, changes to insolvency laws, a CSIRO innovation fund and incentives to encourage the participation of students in maths and science education. 

NTEU National President Jeannie Rea said it also provided much needed ongoing funding for the Australian Synchrotron, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

“By providing strong incentives, including $36m for a Global Innovation Strategy for business collaboration with universities, and $200m to CSIRO for co-investment in spin-off companies, the agenda relies on our universities and public sector research agencies to kick start a new innovative culture within Australian business.

“While the NTEU welcomes policies that encourage greater collaboration, we would caution against overtly prioritising the commercialisation of university research outcomes.

“An overly-commercial approach could inhibit academic freedom and blue sky or discovery research, which is the cornerstone of our universities’ success in producing world-class work, and finding answers to the wicked problems facing us today. 

“The government needs to be careful that it does not starve the research geese that lay the golden eggs.

“The NTEU is also cautious because we are yet to see where the savings to pay for this additional expenditure will be found. We understand this will be revealed in the MYEFO next week.”

We are also concerned about the government adopting the Watt Review recommendations in relation to research block grants, our views about which were expressed in a recent media release: http://www.nteu.org.au/article/Watt-review-says-let-the-money-do-all-the-talking-when-it-comes-to-uni-research-18240

Tags: Related Blogs: Funding, Research

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