Maths missing out

It’s not just HASS taking the hit on research commercialisation

“Business and government investment in mathematical sciences research and development remains minimal compared to other disciplines,” Jan de Gier (national university maths partnership MATRIX), Tom Keegan (MATRIX) and Maaike Wienk (Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute) argue in a new paper.

They base their case on grant allocations across various programmes. Their figures for ARC and NHMRC programmes don’t strike CMM as all bad. However on total government R&D for separate STEM fields, maths sciences has consistently rated close to 0 per cent since 2008-09, maxing at 2.68 per cent in 2018-19. Its lower for business investment, the best being 0.61 per cent in ’17-18.

It reflects the trend away from pure basic research and strategic basic research in higher education research funding.

“Against the background of the recent emphasis on research translation into commercialisable outcomes, we note that the vastly increased university funding for research this last decade is already mostly flowing to applied research … despite the need to ensure that basic research is properly supported for Australia’s long-term prosperity,” they warn.