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Australia's competitiveness 'depends on' business-research link

28 May, 2015

The Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, the Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP and the Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP have announced the strategy Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research.

The Ministers highlighted that Australia's research sector is highly productive and recognised globally for the quality of its research. Australia has improved our global share of the top 1 per cent of highly cited publications by 75 per cent between 2005 and 2013.

But, the Ministers also acknowledged, when it comes to collaboration between business and researchers Australia's performance falls away.

Minister Pyne said that the Government was determined to address the challenges Australia faces in turning good ideas and research breakthroughs into commercial results.

"Despite our strong history in research, Australia ranks last in the OECD on the proportion of businesses which collaborate with research institutions on innovation. Similarly, in 2011, Australia ranked second last of 17 OECD countries on new-to-the-world innovation," Pyne said.

"For Australia to prosper, we must improve our ability to translate publicly funded research into commercial outcomes. The strategy we announce today includes 14 important actions to support economic growth and to ensure Australia's competitiveness into the future."

Minister for Industry and Science the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP said Australia's future competitiveness depends on collaboration between business and researchers to turn Australia's strong track record of generating world-class ideas into practical outcomes that benefit our economy and our community and enhance our standard of living.

"The need for reform is clear," Macfarlane said. "Our universities, science agencies and businesses are critical to capitalising on new economic opportunities and for building our industries and jobs of the future, but they must collaborate more effectively so we can get the most value from our research spending."

Minister for Health the Hon Sussan Ley MP said the Government's Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) will fund research to help Australians enjoy healthier, more productive lives.

"The Government's Medical Research Future Fund is expected to reach $20 billion in 2019-20 with more than $400 million expected to be provided to researchers over the forward estimates," Ms Ley said. "It will help Australians realise both the health and economic benefits of research and is a valuable part of our plan to deliver a smarter investment in improving health outcomes for all Australians," she said.

Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research is a key initiative under the Government's Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda released by the Prime Minister on 14 October 2014.

It arises from extensive consultation undertaken on a discussion paper on Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research released in late 2014.

Pyne said that the Government will ensure that consultation with industry and researchers remains at the core of the strategy's implementation.

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