Australia's business and university sectors need to work more closely to find ways to boost the nation's research and development performance, according to the President of the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee Professor Gerard Sutton.
Australian business investment in research and innovation is 0.86% for expenditure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (see graph below), compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 1.53%. The United States is at 1.87% and Japan at 2.36%.
"Australia has a wonderful tradition for innovative research both within the business and university sectors but the figures suggest Australia is missing out on some great opportunities; opportunities that must be taken if we are to compete within the global economy," Professor Sutton said.
"We need to develop strategies where the universities, business and government work together to identify more opportunities for R&D collaboration. There are many examples of extremely valuable research partnerships between Australian business and universities, and we need to use these to demonstrate how they can lead to successful outcomes for all concerned - the corporations that back the research, the university teams that conduct the research, and of course the nation."
Examples range from world-leading medical research to major scientific, engineering and information technology breakthroughs.
"Australian universities are well placed to undertake more research for business and industry, so we must work together to find ways to utilise our capacity," Professor Sutton said.
The AVCC's recent submission to the Productivity Commission's study on public support for science and innovation focuses strongly on the need to increase business investment in research and development. The submission recommends that:
1. Australia build on existing collaboration between universities, publicly funded research agencies and the private sector by developing new incentives for greater private sector participation in the national innovation system
2. the Australian Government note the evidence that Australia's current investment in science and innovation lags well behind that of leading OECD countries and take positive action to correct the imbalance.
A copy of the AVCC submission is available from here.
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