Better bang for ten billion bucks in innovation investment

Innovation and Science Australia’s strategy for Australia in the “global innovation race” to 2030 recommends addressing emerging workplace needs by tying higher education HELP course costs to employment outcomes and creating VET measures of course relevance and employment by 2022, with the price of courses set to “market demand for skills.”

Among a plethora of other proposals ISA also advocates change in the $3.126bn research and development tax incentive, the largest public innovation outlay in the $10bn innovation spend. ISA states there, “is emerging evidence” that questions the impact of such incentives on productivity growth. The review backs the approach of the 2016 Review of the Three Fs on the tax incentive. ISA calls for a $4m pa cap and a $40m total for R&D tax incentives and it proposes requiring companies to spend 1 per cent of total outlays on R&D before they can use the incentive. Bill Ferris, chair of ISA and Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, who is deputy chair, were two of the three original R&D reviewers.

In other core recommendations ISA calls for a “collaboration premium in the R&DTI, dedicated funding for research-industry research translation, long-term investment in research (notably computational) infrastructure, and a continuing commitment to greater gender diversity” in STEM.

The report also calls for government to commit to “national missions,” “designed to address audacious challenges.” ISA suggests, genomics and precision medicine, followed by preserving the Great Barrier Reef beyond 2030 and “decarbonising an Australian city” by switching an entire gas supply from natural gas to “clean hydrogen”.


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