But Chair Deborah Terry wants academics driving it in their preferred direction
Professor Terry (Uni Queensland VC) will make the case for university engagement in the applied research agenda in a speech to the National Press Club today, suggesting that COVID-19 established academics have the expertise, authority and community support to lead.
“Australians turned to trusted university experts during the crisis … They kept us safe and prepared us for recovery,” her prepared text states.
Backing Education Minister Alan Tudge’s support for translational research, Professor Terry makes the case for improving the application of research through collaboration between universities, industry and government.
“By working in closer partnership with government and industry, we want to play a greater role in lifting productivity, boosting the diversification of our economy, and creating new jobs.”
But having made-nice with what the government will do, Professor Terry’s text slips into the mix, blue-sky research, the work that happens way before there are any outcomes to apply.
“It’s critically important to our future prosperity that we continue to support our basic research. That early-phase discovery science involves backing our researchers to follow their ideas, wherever they lead,” she says.
“If we don’t support basic research, there will be nothing to translate or commercialise.
And we won’t be in a position to drive our future. “
Neatly done. The government may specify funding for basic research in the expected translational fund – but if it doesn’t, Professor Terry will be able to tell the aggrieved legions in the labs that she tried.