The world of science in Australia is flattered at the sudden attention from Canberra.
The government’s plan puts science at the centre of Australia’s future with 20 initiatives for research and innovation, including education, research infrastructure, and international collaboration in science and business.
The new innovation agenda gets a big welcome from scientists. Here’s what they’re saying:
Australian Academy of Science
“This new agenda represents a turning point. It means we can grow an economy based on our outstanding science, and which makes the best use of our significant scientific capital,” says Les Field of the Australian Academy of Science.
“For a long time Australia has lagged behind many other countries when it comes to commercialising ideas from universities and research organisations.
“With this agenda, the Turnbull government has recognised that innovation is key to Australia’s future and that the ideas and knowledge produced by research are key to innovation.”
The Science in Australia Gender Equity
The Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) program will receive funding as part of a $13 million package for women in science.
SAGE is at the pilot stage in more than half of Australia’s universities and other research bodies, including CSIRO. The extra funding will help ensure all scientific research institutions are able to take part.
The SAGE pilot was launched by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering earlier this year.
“Diversity underlies innovation. This government support will enable us to grow the diverse, talented research sector that Australia needs to create, shape and maintain the innovative society we want in the future,” says SAGE co-chair Nalini Joshi.
“Full inclusion of women in our innovation system is essential if Australia is to reach its economic and social potential.”
Centre for Transformative Innovation
“A major problem with innovation programs in the past has been their transience and over-engineering,” says Professor Beth Webster, the centre director at Swinburne University of Technology.
“Most programs and policies have only lasted 6-8 years. They disappear before industry is aware of them. Unless industry is aware of programs and policies, they will have no impact on their behaviour.”
She says the impact of many innovation programs, including the change to bankruptcy laws and changes in tax breaks, won’t be felt for 10 to 20 years.
“What mechanism has the Government put in place to ensure, programs are long lived; and that they are monitored and evaluated so they can be improved overtime?” she says.
The innovation statement sends a strong message that Australia is looking ahead and preparing for an era of increased productivity, says Meera Verma of BioSA, the a statutory authority of the South Australian Government.
“We need a culture of innovation in Australia to address the increasingly rapid cycle of disruptive technology and this policy shows that the Federal government gets it,” Dr Verma says.
“Dramatic improvements in the standard of living globally over the last 70 years have been achieved on the back of technology-based innovation.”
Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology
“We are delighted by this news. Quantum computing is a transformational technology in which Australia has an international lead, and there is now an opportunity for translating this research right here in Australia,” says Professor Michelle Simmons at the University of NSW.
“We are thrilled not just by this announcement, but also by the genuine interest that has been shown in our work by many members of parliament.”
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