Tech unis pitch to commercialise research

The Australian Technology Network, with its Uni Newcastle pal, has big ideas for applied research funding, including an “adjustment to the way research performance is measured”  – but HASS deans say their disciplines need to be included

The ATN+N supports the idea of mission-driven research (CMM March 2 and April 9) in its submission to the government’s university commercialisation paper. And it wants the new model to be the main-game, to “align with or supersede other initiatives,” specifying the Science and Research Priorities and the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

Plus, the lobby calls for all of government backing for “key strategic industries,” with “stability and consistency” in policy, funding, commercial and tax settings, and “capacity building partnerships with local universities.”

But lest anyone fear this sounds rather like a government “picking winners proposal” ATN+ has another idea, fund universities to work out what will win. The mission-driven research strategy should invest in the wider benefits of university research to Australia and its people, as well as the economic return.

“Universities should be given flexibility within the mission-driven research strategy to invest in the research, people and infrastructure that will facilitate their best contribution to the overall strategy. This will allow universities to direct investment where it is needed in a timely manner, including supporting emerging ideas and partners in a way that is not tied to grant or funding cycles.”

ATN+ also wants a change to what rates with the Australian Research Council, calling for, “an adjustment of measures of research excellence in activities such as Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) to emphasise innovation and commercialisation.

“This could include reviewing the Engagement and Impact Assessment to ensure that the measures reflect our priorities for the Australian research system.”

But perhaps to stop ATN+ HASS faculties feeling left out , there is also a role for less tech-focused work., “The mission-driven research strategy should be invested in the wider benefits of university research to Australia and its people, as well as the economic return.”

It’s a theme made more explicit by the Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities which wants a role for its disciplines.

“There are no prospective commercial endeavours or problems facing Australia which do not require significant input from those with expertise in the cultural and social contexts in which they have emerged,”

“We recommend that human/social contexts be factored into all ‘missions’ included in the model for research commercialisation. Universities and industry partners should be encouraged and incentivised to collaborate with HASS specialists and research and to demonstrate that they have an adequate understanding of the specific human/social contexts upon which the success of their endeavours will depend,” DASSH states in its submission to the consultation paper.