Opinion

KAREN ANDREWS: Here’s why 95 CRC projects funded by the Australian government are the future of industry and innovation

- May 30, 2019 4 MIN READ

Nearly three decades after its establishment, the CRC Program continues to go from strength to strength.

It is a testament to the power of collaboration … of bringing industry and research together to achieve a common goal.

I’m proud of the excellent track record of our CRCs in delivering tangible outcomes and developing commercial solutions to a range of industry problems.

Today, Australia is credited with the biggest breakthrough in drilling technology in the last 50 years thanks to the RoXplorer Coiled Tubing Drilling Rig developed by the Deep Exploration Technologies CRC.

Also, millions of people around the world have seen their quality of life improve thanks to HEARing CRC’s innovation, which underpins Cochlear medical devices.

The CRCs’ contribution to building a highly skilled workforce to support our industries is also essential. Our CRCs are helping make our higher education students work ready.

These students have the opportunity to work with and learn from leading researchers and industry experts who are commercialising leading-edge research in our universities, research institutions and industry.

The result is graduates and interns with hands-on industry experience, who in turn help break down the barriers between research and industry.

 

Collaborating with government

We have a great opportunity to continue to work together to harness the collective power of industry, science and technology to improve industrial capacity, grow the economy and create more high-value Australian jobs.

I’m keen to build on the good work we’ve achieved together over the past six years — government, researchers, industry and the community.

The Liberal National Government has made large investments in science and innovation: from investing in major research infrastructure and STEM capability and skills, to improving the commercialisation prospects of our R&D efforts and supporting industry capability.

We’ve seen venture capital continue to grow, which is crucial for investment in research and development.

Industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews. Photo: David Foote-AUSPIC/DPS.

Since 2014 nearly $5 billion in investments have been made into about 1000 Australian businesses through registered venture capital funds receiving tax concessions.

In the years ahead, I want to see Australian industry take greater advantage of the opportunities emerging from technological disruption.

Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, cutting-edge space technologies and more: they are all extending the frontiers of industry, with huge potential for the economy and jobs.

And we can make the most of these opportunities if our researchers and industries work closely together.

Few programs are more uniquely suited to this task than the CRC Program.

Since 2013, the government has committed more than $1.1 billion to the CRC Program.

An investment that has allowed us to fund 25 CRCs and 95 CRC Projects in all growth sectors of the economy—from food and agribusiness to cyber security and space.

 

South Australia’s space race

Here in South Australia, we’re investing in creating next generation space-technologies and professionals, and making Australia more competitive in the global space economy.

That is what the SmartSat CRC is about.

One of four successful applications in CRC Round 20, the government is providing funding of $55 million over seven years for the SmartSat CRC.

This funding is matched by $167 million in cash and in-kind contributions from the 74 partners in the CRC.

The SmartSat CRC is an industry-led research collaboration involving a broad cross section of the Australian space industry, governments and the research sector.

The CRC will support the government’s aim to grow and transform Australia’s space industry.

I’m pleased it will also advance gender equality and diversity in STEM-related industries by inspiring women and Indigenous Australians to pursue careers in space.

The government recognises the great benefits of space technologies and services for all Australians and we must marshal the talents of all our people, men and women, to capitalise on the opportunities they offer.

As you will know, the government established the Australian Space Agency last year to drive growth in the space industry and create new business and job opportunities.

The agency will help triple Australia’s space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Our Government has committed over $73 million for the agency since 2018–19.

This includes $19.5 million for a Space Infrastructure Fund to support space projects across the nation over the next three years.

We’ve already announced that Adelaide will be the home of the agency, along with two new national space facilities to be supported through the fund.

Namely a Mission Control Centre and a new Australian Space Discovery Centre, at the cost of $6 million each.

These projects and the Space Agency will deliver investment and jobs to the South Australian economy.

 

Support for Growth Centres

I’d like to note that the CRC program and Industry Growth Centres Initiative are complementary initiatives enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of Australian industries.

CRCs and Industry Growth Centres work together to be catalysts for increased and more productive industry-research engagement.

Growth Centres directly assist industry and business to prosper by identifying priorities in key growth sectors.

Industry and researchers draw on this information to leverage funding through sources such as the CRCs.

Growth Centres can be partners in CRCs or CRC Projects and CRCs are encouraged to consider Growth Centre strategic visions to better understand government priorities.

Both CRCs and Growth Centres are doing a great job and the Morrison Government remains committed to supporting them.

A $755 million commitment

The CRC program is ongoing, with $755 million slated for funding its two streams—CRCs and CRC Projects—over the forward estimates.

CRC Round 21 is open and stage one applications close on 1 July, so you may want to take note if you are putting in an application.

I expect to announce the outcomes of Round 21 in December.

Regarding the CRC-Ps, I hope to announce the outcomes of Round 7 next month.

As part of the 2019 election, the government committed to allocate $20 million through Round 8 of the CRC-Ps to reduce plastic wastage and boost plastics recycling.

I expect to provide more information on Round 8 next month.

 

* Karen Andrews is the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology in the new Morrison Coalition Government. This is an edited version of her address to the CRC Association Annual Conference in Adelaide today. 

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