Finally, a plan for R&D industry-uni partnerships

Tax incentives tied to research partnerships on the agenda

Labor has committed to a key call by research and development reformers and promises a 10 per cent tax premium for firms that “collaborate with researchers in universities and public research agencies to create new knowledge”.

This is half the per centage proposed in the Ferris-Finkel-Fraser review of R&D funding (CMM September 29 2016), but is still seen as a significant commitment to Labor’s objective of 3 per cent of GDP on applied research.

Labor says industry spending that could qualify includes product development with a university or CSIRO and working with new PhD graduates. Cooperative Research Centres are expected to be eligible for the programme.

The scheme seeks to kick-start R&D planning set out in the Three Fs review which has been stalled by government prevarication over changes designed to contain business maximising R&D tax concessions. The coalition proposed savings of $2bn over the forward estimates in the 2018 budget, but the legislation had not passed the Senate when the election was called.

If Labor in government proceeds with similar savings from capping refunds on tax offsets and increasing the threshold for large companies benefiting under the scheme the university- institution partnerships it proposes all but guarantees their vocal support.

Universities Australia has kicked off the congratulations with Chief Executive Catriona Jackson saying she; “welcomed the policy commitment, noting the university sector had made the case for a premium rate in recent years”.

“Since 2015, Universities Australia has advocated for a premium tax concession for businesses collaborating with our nation’s universities on research and development. A premium tax concession would boost the number of businesses that tap into the wealth of expertise inside universities and enhance innovation in Australia.”


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