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Scientific leaders issue a compelling call to double investment in research

Health Industry Hub | November 8, 2023 |

Medical: The nation’s science and technology sectors are seeking robust commitments from political parties and candidates ahead of the federal election. The aim? To fortify incentives for businesses to invest in research and development (R&D), effectively doubling Australia’s investments in university research. This clarion call for change was made during the annual Leadership Dialogue of Science & Technology Australia (STA), a coalition comprising 138 member organisations representing 115,000 scientists and technologists.

Central to this ambitious objective is a significant increase in R&D investment, with STA members strongly endorsing a proposal for political parties to establish a target of 3% of GDP by 2035, with an interim target of 2.4% by 2030.

Highlighting the economic significance of such investments, the recent Impact Assessment of ARC-funded Research report revealed that every dollar invested in Australian research generates a noteworthy $3.32 in economic returns for the country.

In addition, noting the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, Australia’s STEM sector leaders issued a call to reindustrialise Australia’s economy with a coordinated strategy across the country’s R&D investment spending, research grant agencies, and policy levers. They also lent their support to STA’s plan to train Australia’s first generation of ‘bench-to-boardroom’ scientists, who will spearhead the creation of the next wave of economy-boosting products and services.

Misha Schubert, CEO of Science & Technology Australia, articulated the significance of this endeavour. “Science and tech leaders in Australia and the vast sectors they represent are focused on the immense contribution that research and development can make to the country’s future jobs and income,” she emphasised, “and how that R&D can enable Australia to create a powerful new economy led by advanced manufacturing.”

She continued, “The call they’ve made to political leaders for the next election would powerfully boost the nation’s capacity to enhance the economy through R&D now. It also sets out a clear path to create the economy we all want – rich in discovery and innovation, with a strong manufacturing base to commercialise those ideas, and thriving and generating new jobs in an era of fierce global competition for science and technology breakthroughs.”

Ms Schubert underscored the global context, stating, “Around the world, major economies are taking strong steps to rebuild their manufacturing bases. In the US, the Inflation Reduction Act commits $520 billion to funding and building a clean technology industry.”

Concluding her remarks, Ms Schubert expressed optimism and underscored the importance of wise investments. She said “With smart investment choices now, Australia can put itself in the driver’s seat for a new industrial age, and secure the country’s future economy, today.”

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