The plan is needed to ignite cultural change and lift Australia’s research and innovation performance in the face of intensifying global competition, the paper argues.
Entitled “University Research: policy considerations to drive Australia’s competitiveness“, the paper warns Australia should adopt such a strategy to remain a high wage, high growth economy.
“In view of accelerating investment in research and innovation by our Asian neighbours and traditional competitors, Australia could be close to the proverbial ‘tipping point’ whereby we are not able to achieve our goal of a high wage, high growth economy”, the report states.
Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Belinda Robinson called for a wide ranging debate on how to achieve deeper and more productive collaboration between university research and industry in line with the Government’s industry, innovation and competitiveness agenda.
“Australia’s research performance compares extremely favourably with that of other similar nations around the world, but we do need to focus on how that research translates into benefits for the broader economy and community”, she said.
“Australian firms are among the lowest collaborators with public research or higher education institutions among OECD countries and we must find ways of improving this.
“Without improvement, Australia risks being left behind in the face of ever increasing global competition”, Ms Robinson said.
The paper examines the policy settings and performance of a range of comparator nations and concludes that although the approaches taken vary, a unifying feature is a strong commitment to continued public support for university research and recognition of the significant role it plays in underscoring a nation’s prosperity.
The Universities Australia paper comes as a submission by the peak body to the Government’s Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research discussion paper recommends stronger incentives for research-industry collaboration as part of a balanced approach that continues to value high quality fundamental research.