Minister makes it plain: Industry Growth Centres set to say

They were gone if Labor won but Karen Andrews likes them

While research lobbies and universities loved a lot of Kim Carr’s ideas (especially R&D tax changes) there is a general sense that if the innovation and science communities must have a coalition minister ‘tis best it is Karen Andrews. People in the  industry growth centres should be particularly pleased.

Ms Andrews was across her brief last time round and while no one expects buckets of money on her watch there is a general sense she will run an informed and supportive operation, with the policy stability research leaders always ask for.

She started the way she meant to go last week, with a speech at the Cooperative Research Centre Association conference.

Ms Andrews assured the audience that the CRC programme was solid across the forward estimates, that Round 21 results will be announced in December, that the results of Round Seven of the short and super-focused CRC Ps are due next month and that there will be details this month of Round Eight, focused on reducing plastic waste.

And she also talked up the Industry Growth Centres programme, which she made plain is good for CRCs and will go on.

Growth Centres directly assist industry and business to prosper by identifying priorities in key growth sectors. Industry and researchers draw on this information to leverage funding through sources such as the CRCs.”

Lest anyone miss her meaning, the minister added, “Both CRCs and Growth Centres are doing a great job and the Morrison Government remains committed to supporting them.”

Good-o but not everybody is as keen on the six industry growth centres, which are charged to “drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness.”  Learned readers question whether they are value for money, particularly the $60m in the 2018 budget and wonder whatever happened to the programme review underway late last year.

Some suggest that closing the programme could start funding for the translational research programme science lobbies want.

Senator Carr certainly thought the money could be better spent. The centres were for the chop if he had replaced Ms Andrews. But he didn’t and they’re not.


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