Which way for research infrastructure funding

The working party to advise on the next research infrastructure roadmap is announced – there could be a new direction

The  next National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy will allocate $4bn through to 2028-29 and Education Minister Alan Tudge says “the world has changed significantly” since the previous (2016) roadmap recommendations.

“Our world-class science and research will continue to contribute to Australia’s response to the evolving challenges and opportunities we now face, and the roadmap will ensure our efforts are focussed on key areas.”

Industry and Science Minister Christian Porter nominates, digital technology, science and research capability “as fundamental” to “boosting our manufacturing capability and securing Australia’s future prosperity and long-term productivity.”

And Mr Tudge adds the roadmap will, “ensure our efforts are focused on key areas,” and “also support our research commercialisation agenda by identifying areas of opportunity at all stages of the research pipeline.”

This appears in-line with Mr Tudge’s aspiration that academics, “become entrepreneurs, taking their ideas from the lab to the market. We want them to be properly rewarded for their breakthroughs and their engagement with business. … We know that more innovation activity will lift our nation’s productivity,” (CMM March 1).

In contrast, the 2016 roadmap stated, “while Australian research covers a wide range of domains, not all require national research infrastructure. Research areas not identified … may be equally important but their infrastructure requirements can be met through institutional or commercially available infrastructure.”

The new working party is chaired by RMIT chancellor, scientist and business leader Ziggy Switkowsky, with members,

* Liz Sonenberg (computing and IT, Uni Melbourne)

* Chris Roberts (“board member in the medical device industry”)

* Barbara Howlett (“a biologist who studies plant diseases,” Uni Melbourne)

* Michelle Perugini (“expert in health/med tech and AI. Serial entrepreneur & mentor”)

* Lauren Stafford (innovation partnerships manager, Woodside Energy resources)

In contrast, the 2016 working party came from universities and research organisations, apart from Andrew Cuthbertson, then (and now) Chief Scientific Officer at CSL.