Research and Industry showcase to push Australia’s science research dollar further

Australia’s world-leading Cooperative Research Centres Programme will be celebrating 25 years of science impact and achievement at its annual conference in Canberra on 25 May.

Federal cabinet ministers, CRC program leaders and policy experts will discuss the research challenges of the next 25 years in areas such as manufacturing, health, communications and the development of Australia’s north.

The designs, products and services developed by CRCs are part of our everyday life; from soft contact lenses and tooth mousse that helps repair dental enamel to new materials for aircraft wing surfaces that reduce fuel use and cut global carbon emissions. In food alone, CRCs have transformed the quality of Australian lamb, assessed salt tolerance in rice, improved the health of commercial pig herds, and developed new strategy for fisheries in the face of rising ocean temperatures.

The CRCs were established in 1990 to bring scientists and industries together to work on some of the biggest challenges facing Australia. These have included better bushfire science, manufacturing, digital technology, biosecurity, sustainable farming, water management and mental health issues underpinning the unacceptably high suicide rate among young people.

“The CRCs are an Australian success story. They were designed to create research impact, and their 25 year record of achievement speaks for itself,” says CRC Association chief executive Dr Tony Peacock.

“It’s a unique Programme and it works equally well across economic, social and environmental research areas. The critical factor in their success is that each CRC has well-defined goals and their management, research and industry investors all agree on those goals and work toward them.”

Dr Peacock says economic analysis has shown that while the CRCs represent less than 1.6% of Federal science funding, they drive a further $4 in investment for every dollar invested by the government.

“The CRCs have always aimed for what is now recognised as vitally important to Australia’s future – creating research impact,” he says.

The CRC’s annual conference will open on 25 May, with former CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark delivering the Ralph Slatyer address on science and society at the Australian War Memorial theatre.

On 26 May, there will be a one-day forum at Parliament House, where speakers will include Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane, Communication minister Malcolm Turnbull and CRC leaders Dr Jane Burns (Young & Well CRC), Professor Mike Aitken (Capital Markets CRC) and Professor Murray Scott (CRC for Advanced Composite Structures).

Details of the conference program can be found at http://australia2040.com.au/

10 things the CRCs have achieved in 25 years:

  • The Hearing CRC produced the cochlear hybrid system which has restored hearing to more than 140,000 people
  • The CRC for Oral Health invented tooth mousse, a paste that remineralises tooth enamel and reduces dental decay. It’s now sold in more than 50 countries
  • The Capital Markets CRC has developed technology to detect fraud, abuse and waste in Australia’s private health insurance markets. The technology has been used to date in over 16 million claims, to a value of more than $28 billion.
  • The Australian Biosecurity CRC has produced the world’s first diagnostic test for equine influenza
  • The Vision CRC developed extended wear soft contact lenses, first commercialised as the Focus® Night & Day™ lens, which has generated over US$20 million a year in patent royalties.
  • Dairy Futures CRC’s researchers have developed a way for farmers to breed cows that eat less to produce the same amount of milk. The new Feed Saved ABV (Australian Breeding Value) lets farmers identify bulls that can save at least 100 kg of dry matter per cow per year, while maintaining milk production.
  • The CRC for Remote Economic Participation has created a network of over 90 Indigenous researchers who advise industry and governments on business investment, environmental and cultural issues
  • The Future Farm Industries CRC developed three new farming systems using perennial plants such as native saltbush that will make farms more drought resilient and increase the nation’s farm profits by $1.6 billion by 2030
  • The Young and Well CRC researched and published Growing Up Queer, Australia’s first report on the psychological impacts of homophobia on young people
  • The CRC for Advanced Composite Structures assisted in the design of a more fuel efficient wing surfaces for the Boeing long-range twin engine aircraft, the Dreamliner

Media who are interested in covering the conference are invited to contact Jordan, Gardner, Communications and Marketing Manager, on 02 6273 1124 or at [email protected]