PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The federal government will invest A$242.7-million into four new research and industry hubs to focus on critical national manufacturing priorities.
The Trailblazer Universities initiative will see universities and industry work together to develop the technologies, products and businesses Australia needs for the challenges the country faces.
Each centre or hub will focus its efforts on the national priority areas set out in the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, including defence, space, resources technology, food and beverage, clean energy and medical products.
“We’re putting our best minds to the task,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
“We’re focusing our researchers and business leaders on Australia’s national priorities to help secure our economic recovery. The Trailblazer Universities will be a platform for our best researchers to find business partners, invest in entrepreneurs and achieve extraordinary results for the country.”
The universities will need to demonstrate their commercialisation readiness, such as having strong links with industry partners including co-funding commitments, innovative intellectual property arrangements, promotion pathways for academics who focus on commercialisation activities rather than pure research, and a governance arrangement chaired by an industry leader.
The four universities, selected through a competitive process launched this week, will receive up to A$50-million over four years to build their commercialisation capacity and A$8-million in Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) specialist support through their proven Test Labs.
Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said the government would partner with universities which have shown drive and interest and are willing to lead the charge.
“Globally, our universities punch above their weight on pure basic research but lag in transforming research into breakthrough ideas, products and new businesses,” Tudge said.
“We want our universities to play a bigger role in our economy, working hand-in-glove with Australian businesses to develop the next generation of great Australian products and companies.
“I am calling for expressions of interest from universities that are hungry to take research and convert it into commercial opportunities.”
Minister for Defence Industry and Science and Technology Melissa Price said the new fund would drive research excellence and real-world impacts to accelerate Australia’s innovation agenda.
“The government will be looking to tap into universities that align their research with the national manufacturing priority areas: defence, space, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, and resources and critical minerals technology,” Price said.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our universities to develop research and technology that goes on to improve the lives of all Australians.”
Successful universities will also be supported through a stronger partnership with the CSIRO and access CSIRO Test Lab equipment, enabling researchers to work with some of our best applied scientists to prototype and test new technologies at scale.
This is the first initiative of the federal government’s research commercialisation agenda, with further announcements to be made in coming weeks.
Universities are invited to submit an initial expression of interest which will be used to shortlist applicants.