With R&D down Unis Aus appeals to industry to engage

And suggests a tax incentive to make it happen

Gross national expenditure on research and development was up six per cent between 2015-16 and 2017-18, to $33bn – which will probably be the figure ministers quote.

But spending by business was up by less than $1bn in the same period and down $1bn on spending in 2013-14, which will likely be the figure opponents of research and development tax changes will cite.

And R&D expenditure is down to 1.79 per cent of GDP, way below 2008-09s 2.25 per cent – which Universities Australia cited late Friday in a pitch to industry.

“Universities have urged Australian businesses to take a fresh look at how university research can help drive productivity to stimulate economic, jobs and wages growth,” Unis Aus CEO Catriona Jackson said.

This is not the first such invitation UA has made. Back in June Ms Jackson responded to a Productivity Commission report that industry R&D is easing off; “we urge businesses to take a closer look at what our world-class university system can do to help your firm to innovate and grow,” CMM June 5).

And in February then UA president Margaret Gardner (VC, Monash U) pitched it strong to the corporates, “if you have a complex business challenge you haven’t been able to crack, come talk to an Australian university about how we can work together to solve it,” (CMM February 28).

But, UA has more on its mind than asking industry out.

Ms Jackson suggests the way to encourage firms to invest is to make it worth theirs, and universities’ while. She renews a proposal for a premium concession rate for firms that collaborate with campuses on R&D. This was recommended by the Review of the Three Fs, which addressed research and development tax and proposed a 20 per cent collaboration premium for business expenditure on research jointly conducted with publicly funded agencies (CMM September 29 2016). Labor took a slimmed-down, 10 per cent, proposal to the last election (CMM May 8).

Given the government is looking for savings from the existing tax concession, expanding isn’t likely.


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education