The Cooperative Research Centres programme is an Australian success story. The outcomes for the nation are out of all proportion to the size of the programme. While representing less than 1.6% of the Commonwealth innovation budget, the CRC programme drives a further $4 for each programme dollar (Figure 3). Moreover, that expenditure is squarely aimed at what is now recognised as vitally important to Australia’s future—creating research impact.
CRCs concentrate on research translation, commercialisation, industry transformation and creating industry-ready postgraduates. In 2014 there is widespread national concern that these issues are critical. However, that consensus is relatively recent. CRCs have almost 25 years of history in our concentration on research impact. It is no coincidence that CRCs are highly prominent in any measure of impact, because they have been designed to create impact and over time they have become better at doing so.
The CRC Association represents all CRCs and a number of Associate and Affiliate members. The Association is extremely supportive of the drive for greater translation and commercialisation of research evident in the current CRC Review as well as in general Australian Government directions. We believe the current consensus amongst government, business, universities and the community in general represents a unique opportunity to further improve the CRC programme. We note the current review is consistent with many other government initiatives.
The CRC Association propose a number of changes to the CRC programme which aim to:
- Improve the “industry-friendliness” of the programme;
- Increase the emphasis on performance over compliance within the programme; and
- Embed industry leadership and excellence as the major drivers for a Cooperative Research Centre.
Our proposed changes are set out in the accompanying recommendations and detailed reasoning set out in our submission.
If adopted, the CRC Association believes our recommendations will attract even greater industry participation and lead to further vital research impact for Australians, our economy and our environment.