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Universities power innovation change

researchToday represented an exciting new phase in the nation’s innovation effort, with the release of the Commonwealth Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Executive Director of the ATN, Renee Hindmarsh said, “We are delighted that improving university-industry collaboration is one of the four key pillars in the Government’s innovation agenda. Along with another pillar - talent and skills - this agenda recognises the vital role universities play in creating jobs and economic growth. We commend the wide consultation that went into the development of this policy.”

 “Seventy per cent of ATN’s research income comes from industry and end users. Knowing firsthand the benefits of such collaboration to industry, researchers and students alike, we are thrilled the Government is attempting to promote this level of engagement throughout the entire economy. In order for innovation to thrive, universities, industry and government need to embrace policies that create engaged students and skilled graduates to work as connectors between industry and the research sector.

“We welcome the commitment of an additional $127m to allow universities to embrace this important shift, along with the proposed changes to university research block grants, and we look forward to sharing our expertise with government when they are building on the work of ATSE, in developing and adopting measures of research impact in 2016.

“We welcome the additional funding for the relaunched Innovation Connections, as an important way of connecting Australian businesses with universities, alongside the improvements to the ARC Linkage Projects scheme and the creation of other enabling initiatives that will draw Australian universities into national and global innovation effort, such as the Business Research and Innovation Initiative, and Global Innovation Strategy,” says Ms Hindmarsh.

The ATN also welcomes additional funding for incubators.

“We have seen firsthand, through initiatives like the Industry Hub at UTS and UniSA’s Innovation and Collaboration Centre, how students and researchers get the opportunity to see new ideas bought to life, thus building the next generation of entrepreneurs. When our brightest minds have access to the right resources and are connected to the right people, we inspire budding entrepreneurs who go on to create new jobs, new markets and new products for future generations.

“We support the funding commitment towards national research infrastructure such as the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and Square Kilometre Array (SKA). We’re also delighted to see the expansion of the Science in Australia Gender Equity pilot to encourage more women to pursue STEM related careers.

 “With our existing relationship with CSIRO, we look forward to further working closely with them to build new spin-off companies and support existing start-ups,” says Ms Hindmarsh.

The Government’s new policies are a step in the right direction and a great opportunity for Australia’s higher education sector.

“We applaud the Government’s new whole-of-government approach, including the creation of a new Innovation and Science Committee of Cabinet elevating this issue to the highest levels.

“We are delighted that many of the recommendations from the ATN and the Australian Industry Group report, Innovate and Prosper, to improve business/university collaboration, have been adopted. However, we urge the Government to use the review of the R&D tax incentive to closely examine how we can better target the concession to promote collaboration.

“The ATN has always been a strong advocate on embracing new ways of improving university-industry collaboration and our universities are leading by example when it comes to building a truly innovative ecosystem. We have forged strong partnerships with industry over many decades, positioning us well for the challenge ahead, and we look forward to contributing our ideas, actions and passion for innovation to this national effort,” says Ms Hindmarsh.

Visit the ATN Innovation page for more examples.