Advanced manufacturing: the next big research thing that wasn’t

In 2015 the previous government made “advanced manufacturing” a research priority. The results are “startling,” just not in a good way

Tim Cahill and Andreea Papuc Krischer (Research Strategies Australia)  report by overall publication count Uni Queensland is well first (3047), followed by RMIT (2097), UNSW (2035), Uni Sydney (1929) and Uni Melbourne (1735).

Four of the top five patent fields that cited Australian scholarly work were in biotech.

Overall they find research accelerated until 2018 but has been slowing since. Given state and commonwealth interest this, they write, “is not what we expected to find.”

Perhaps it was due to a strong period of research prior to the policy, which led to publications in ’15-’18. But as to why it slowed, “we can’t offer up an explanation of this based on our current analysis, though others will no doubt conjecture.”

But they do identify an outcome; offshore institutions such as MIT and Uni Pennsylvania “are translating Australian insight into patent-able technologies.”

“Companies … are also looking at Australian research and seeing commercial opportunities that Australian companies aren’t.”

So what is to be done?

“A coordinated approach to international collaboration in research translation would yield significant impacts,” Cahill and Krischer suggest.

“There is ample evidence to support a substantial opportunity for Australia’s AMT research to have an impact on industry, but on present evidence it would appear that this opportunity is passing us by,” they warn.