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Have you seen the latest PR release from Cooperative Research Centres...

 The question of future support for R&D, innovation and supporting co-operative research has come under the hammer with last nights budget.

Their PR release is below with contact details if you want to learn more...

Extremely disappointing budget result
for Cooperative Research

"Down, but  certainly not out"

"Redouble our efforts to demonstrate the value of cooperative research to the community"

The Cooperative Research Centres Association is extremely disappointed that the Government further cut the CRC Program in last night's budget above and beyond cuts undertaken during the 2010 election campaign. The CRC Program's budget was already declining due to the finish of the Backing Australia's Ability Program.

"Yes, it does feel like the death of a thousand cuts" said CRCA CEO Professor Tony Peacock in response to questions this morning. "But reports that the Government is winding down the Program are premature and in my view, wrong. Minister Kim Carr has consistently said he supports the CRC Program and I believe him."

Professor Peacock was responding to a report in the online edition of The Australian by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at UNSW, Professor Les Field who said "This is a very clear signal that the CRC program is really being wound down and its future must be in doubt."

Professor Field's also said "The CRC program was notably one of the few programs which has actually supported long-term collaborative programs between the University sector and industry."

OECD figures consistently show that Australia rates low on collaboration. "We need to do a much better job demonstrating to Government and the bureaucracy that more collaboration leads to better innovation and better innovation leads to improved national productivity" said Professor Peacock.

"Obviously industry understands the value of CRCs - they compete fiercely to get one - only 4 got up out of 30 applications last year. The 13% success rate is markedly lower than the big research programs in Australia."

"Industry want CRCs and recognise the value. Earlier this year AngloAmercian Mining took the extraordinary step of placing full page newspaper advertising thanking a young CRC researcher for partnering with them on a new "SmartCap" that measures fatigue in truck drivers. Think about that - it illustrates that the CRC Program has developed a new breed of entrepreneurial scientist with the nous and industry linkages to make things happen" said Professor Peacock.

"CRCs obviously have a very tough road ahead. Fourteen are due to complete their current term in mid-2012. Nine or ten of them will seek to be renewed and perhaps 15 or 20 new applications will be received. Even without the $33 million of cuts over the forward estimates that have been implemented in the election campaign and last night's budget, we were realistically looking at probably only 5, 6 or 7 CRCs being successful in this year's funding round. The cuts mean that the figures are more likely to be 3, 4 or 5".

"We have a particular problem for regional Australia. Cotton, Beef, eWater, Invasive Animals, Forestry and National Plant Biosecurity CRCs are all of particular interest for people in regional Australia and all expire next year. I believe five of these six will be seeking extension. Realistically, we were looking at only maybe 2 or 3 of these gaining renewal in any case. Now, it's more likely to be 1 or 2 and quite possibly none of them".

Professor Peacock said that despite the hard road, the CRC Program will remain a very important one for Australia. "We are down, but not out. We still attract $150 million of funding from the Australian Government each year and we have to redouble our efforts to demonstrate how that money is benefiting Australia's productivity and skills".

"We recognise the fiscal situation for Australia and we have restrained any call for more money because of that, even after the cuts implemented during the election. We are pleased that medical research and the ARC were strengthened in last night's budget and that the Government has kept a strong commitment to science by maintaining or strengthening funding to Universities, the CSIRO and the Rural R&D Corporations. But we have to say last night feels like another straw on the camel's back."

"I would be very pleased to invite any Federal or State politician from any party or any Independent, any national journalist, or any senior Finance or Treasury official to theCRC Association Annual Conference next week in Brisbane as my personal guest" said Professor Peacock. "If you see the extraordinary achievements being delivered, you'll realise the contribution CRCs are making and that over time we have to rebuild funding".

Any politician, journalist or official that would like to find out more about CRCs through Professor Peacock's invitation should contact admin@crca.asn.au

Professor Peacock is available for comment on 0402 036 110.

Reaction from one Cooperative Research Centre -
The Vision CRC

Professor Brien Holden, CEO Vision CRC

“Given the serious concerns about potential budget cuts to science and medical research we’re extremely relieved at news of the government’s continued support, and in some areas increase (science and innovation) in funding. However, it is disappointing to learn of substantial cuts to the CRC program. 

You can’t underestimate the importance of this program in stimulating and supporting breakthrough research and furthering Australia’s capacity for innovation.

Australia is now a leader in eye research internationally, partly because of the foresight of the government in establishing this program. In this area it has created breakthroughs in vision correction products that have impacted on the world and has so far brought in royalties of around $150 million and hundreds of millions of dollars in the form of investment by research and industry partners into Australia. It has also contributed important programs in Aboriginal health.

The long-term benefits for Australia are also very significant, including an enhanced international reputation for research excellence, furthering our research capacity and establishing important linkages with external partners and developing the next generation of researchers through the CRC’s postgraduate education program.

We understand the government has many funding priorities, but I point out that the CRC program is the envy of many countries and I hope that in the future funding will be found to ensure we remain leaders in innovation.”

(to organise comment from Professor Holden, contact Stephen Davis on 02 9385 7356)
Queensland University of Technology CRC Program CSIRO The University of Queensland  QR National 
FAL University of South Australia CRC CARE Hynes Lawyers  The Australian National University
Capital Hill Consulting Innovation Law Central Queensland University Griffith University
Qantas Australian Institute for Commercialisation Southern Cross University Popular Science






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