The collaborative model and approach to research infrastructure investment that has been in place since 2005 delivers excellent value for money for the university sector and the tax payer, and develops a culture of academic to academic, and academic to business collaboration that is fundamental to a powerful research and innovation system. Many researchers now access shared, leading edge facilities providing a cost-effective service that delivers value to both the institutional investors and the beneficiaries of research outcomes.
It is critical that national research infrastructure is enabled to be carefully planned, operate at optimal capacity and be broadly available. The Australian research infrastructure landscape is now internationally known and respected. The scope and scale of infrastructures is now so large and complex it is no longer the domain of any single institution. According to the National Research Investment Plan the collaborative model:
- uses a strategic approach to direct funding to priority investments;
- avoids unnecessary duplication;
- enables researchers to access the most modern facilities on the basis of merit;
- achieves high levels of utilisation;
- provides the opportunity to adjust to changing needs and respond to the need for urgent research on emerging threats;
- provides for skilled staff to mange and operate infrastructure;
- and encourages collaboration between researchers, including business researchers; and
- provides facilities that attract international collaborators.
Filling the need for a long-term, sustainable model for funding major research infrastructure projects is one of the most pressing issues to be addressed by government to support and grow a powerful research and innovation system for Australia.