This is the sector Brexit could actually have a positive impact on

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Brexit hit some parts of the British economy hard, but there’s one sector that could stand to benefit — research and development (R&D).

The IMF recently published a report on the UK economy which contained some suggestions for improving productivity, including better investment in R&D.

One of the key areas covered by the report also suggests that R&D is an area where Australia could do better to ensure our economy is functioning at its best.

The IMF’s report notes that public and private spending on R&D in the UK is relatively low.

In Australia, improved collaboration is probably as important as increased spending.

Data from the OECD and others shows that Australia’s science and research is top quality.

Despite this strong performance in producing excellent research, our ability to translate publicly funded research into commercial outcomes lags behind comparable countries.

In 2013, we ranked last in the OECD on the proportion of businesses which collaborate with research institutions on innovation.

We need to encourage further links between industry, universities, CSIRO and financiers. Without this, Australia will fall further behind its global peers.

Australian businesses need to consider their approach in this area.

Without action, Australia will remain as an outpost of excellent research that does not connect with the commercial world as well as it could.

This is a cultural challenge, and therefore reliant on leadership and initiative, but the benefits to Australian industry and society seem clear.

Universities Australia has also recently published a “call to arms” on this topic, seeking improved collaboration between businesses, universities and other research groups to improve the commercialisation of Australian research.

The report “Clever Collaborations: the strong business case for partnering with universities” highlights the benefits to business of improved collaboration and outlines several examples of successful partnerships.

The report points out that universities “are a vast resource of research and innovation for both business and community groups. Tapping into this expertise can help businesses to lift their competitiveness and growth, gain a competitive edge, reduce both costs and risks…… and gain access to new ideas and emerging opportunities”.

For more on the potential benefits to business of better collaboration with the research community, see The Business Insider Research report: The Collaboration Report: Why collaboration matters, and what Australia needs to do more of.

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