STEM sector calls for more R&D investment

By on 16 November, 2021

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Australia’s science and technology sector has urged political parties heading to the next election to pledge investment in job-and-wealth-generating R&D to spur a STEM-led economic recovery.

Science & Technology Australia (STA) represents 90,000 STEM professionals spanning the research system, the private sector, commercialisation hubs and deep-tech start-ups.

At its annual leadership dialogue, STA urged parties to announce bold targets to ramp up R&D investment to propel Australia into the top 10 countries in the OECD.

This once-in-a-generation investment would tackle the urgent top priorities identified by Australia’s science and technology leadership, with the aim of delivering vast economic returns.

As they finalise their election policies, the STEM sector urges all parties to pledge to:

  1. Make Australia a global STEM superpower by growing R&D investment to lift Australia into the top ten OECD countries (relative to the size of the economy).
  2. Invest in a $2.4 billion Research Translation Fund to drive income-generating commercialisation of Australian research and create thousands of new jobs.
  3. Craft a comprehensive plan across government to coordinate R&D strategic investment, policy and roles to seize competitive strategic advantage for Australia.
  4. Embolden discovery research by boosting investment in the major grant agencies to catapult breakthroughs and secure the science workforce with a bridge to the other side of the pandemic.
  5. Tackle the broken system of insecure work tied to competitive research grants, especially for early career scientists.
  6. Commit to keep funding the national science agencies in the coming term by at least current levels of investment indexed by CPI.
  7. Develop a comprehensive plan to transition to a net-zero emissions economy and safeguard Australia’s unique biodiversity.
  8. Renew a long-term investment in the nation’s vital research infrastructure through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.
  9. Craft a plan to tackle a decline in STEM achievement of Australian school students and stop the brain drain of our children out of STEM.
  10. Make a further commitment to programs to boost diversity and inclusion in STEM to ensure the nation draws on the widest possible pool of talent.

“Science and technology have guided us safely through a once-in-a-century pandemic — now we need to deploy them to create new jobs and drive Australia’s economic recovery,” said Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer, Misha Schubert.

“To achieve that goal, we need a once-in-a-generation bold investment to secure the new sovereign capabilities Australia needs in science and technology — an investment that will generate vast economic returns and new jobs for the nation.”

“Australia should set itself a vision to become a global STEM superpower, with a bold investment target in R&D, in a clear-eyed strategic push to seize future jobs from our economic competitors.”

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