Australian support for R&D among the lowest in the world

Australian support for R&D among the lowest in the world

Australia has one of the lowest levels of government support for R&D and innovation development in the world and business must build industry specific R&D corporations if Australia is to compete in the global economy, a policy brief from the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne highlights.

The study highlights that the US government has committed over 0.22% GDP to business R&D and the UK Government 0.14%, while the Australian government has committed 0.09%.

‘Public debate often erroneously suggests that Australian governments are generous in this area. The alarm bells should be ringing about the rate at which our secondary and service sector industries are slipping behind not just other high-income countries but increasingly middle-income countries such as Malaysia, South Korea and the Czech Republic’ stated the report’s author Professor Beth Webster from the Melbourne Institute.

The report also states that business must take the lead and build industry specific R&D corporations if Australia is to compete in the global economy.

‘The loss of car manufacturer Holden and current attempts to assure Toyota’s location in Australia underline the pertinence for industry to map out their future without waiting for federal or state Government to take a lead. Industry led R&D corporations can give Australia the decisive edge in the global economy’ highlighted Professor Webster

Industry owned corporations would fund R&D for the benefit of the members with funding coming from a mix of industry levies, membership fees and government funds. Strategic priorities are identified by the industry through a range of consultative activities and the research is targeted at specific industry needs.

‘The advantage of the R&D corporation model is its comparative permanence. A program that is established under an act of parliament is less prone to annual budget cuts. Confidence in the longevity of a program gives the industry, and the research community that services it, the reassurance it needs to establish the architecture to support it’ underlined Professor Webster.

The Melbourne Institute Policy Brief Series is a collection of research publications that examines current policy issues and provides and independent platform to examine pertinent issues in public debate.

The Australian newspaper recently reported on this research.

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