A short country profile for science and technology
3.1 Chief Scientist for Australia
The Chief Scientist for Australia, Professor Penny D Sackett, provides high-level independent advice to the Prime Minister and other Ministers on matters relating to science, technology and innovation. She is the Executive Officer to the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council and also provides a link, not only between government and science, engineering, innovation and industry groups, but across portfolios.
Professor Sackett is also an advocate for Australian science internationally and focuses national thinking on science across the states and territories through the Forum of Australian Chief Scientists. An equally important part of the Chief Scientist’s role is to be a champion of science and research in the community, with a special brief to promote science as a career and help break down the cultural barriers that inhibit collaboration between researchers and industry. Finally, Professor Sackett is a communicator of science to the general public, with the aim to promote understanding of, contribution to and enjoyment of science. She took up the position of Chief Scientist on 3 November 2008.
For more information about the work of the Chief Scientist.
3.3 Research agencies
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
Australian Institute of Marine Science
Bureau of Rural Sciences
3.5 The Innovation System
The Australian government recognises that innovation is the key driver of economic growth. The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research spearheads the government's efforts in this area.
In May 2009 the Government published its White Paper entitled Powering Ideas: An Innovation agenda for the 21st Century, which is to be supported by a $3.1 billion boost in science, research and innovation funding over the next four years.
The budget package included more support for world class university research, a Super Science Initiative focusing on national research strengths, a new Research and Development Tax Credit and other measures to boost innovation. For more information about the Budget, please click here.
Linking science and industry
Building the connections between science and industry is a key theme in the Government’s approach to science and innovation. Collaboration between researchers is already the dominant pattern for research activities in Australia and this is complemented by a focus on maximising results and improving the commercialisation of new ideas.
The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Programme, for example, links researchers with industry for faster economic benefits from science and innovation. Since the Programme was launched by the Government in 1990, there have been 11 selection rounds resulting in the creation of 168 CRCs with more than AUD$12 billion in funding. In 2009, 48 CRCs operated in six sectors:
The Program’s return to the Australian economy is significant. According to a 2006 study by Insight Economics, Australia’s economy gains about AUD$2.7 billion from this investment.
One of the key features of all CRCs is international engagement and Europe is a key partner region for CRC cooperation.
Launched on 21 May 2008, the $50 million a year Enterprise Connect network is a central plank of the Government’s Innovation 'Future for Australian Industry' policy platform. Enterprise Connect is providing Australia’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to the best advice, technology and research, and link firms to resources in their immediate region and around the country.
Twelve Enterprise Connect centres around Australia help businesses succeed and help create high wage, high skilled jobs now and for the future, adding significant new capacity to the national innovation system. This includes a national network of Manufacturing Centres, a Clean Energy Innovation Centre, a Creative Industries Innovation Centre and a Remote Enterprise Centre.
Science and technology research parks and incubators can also be found at many universities around Australia. These parks and centres encourage commercialisation of Australian research by promoting technology transfer, innovation and entrepreneurial growth, and give emerging research companies resources to expand, through the provision of facilities and advice.