On 1 February 2022, the Prime Minister announced the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan, a $2.2 billion investment to place university innovation and industry collaboration front and centre of Australia’s economic recovery.
The Action Plan outlines key initiatives which will reform Australia’s research commercialisation landscape including Australia’s Economic Accelerator, introduction of a National Industry PhD Program, expanding CSIRO’s Main Sequence Ventures, and establishment of the Trailblazer Universities Program.
The package of initiatives announced in the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan build on and strengthen the National Manufacturing Priorities set out in the Modern Manufacturing Strategy (medical products, food and beverage, recycling and clean energy, resources technology and critical minerals processing, defence, and space), ensuring Government research investment is being focused in sectors where Australian research can build scale and have real-world impact.
This package will see universities, industry, and Government partner together on effective research. It will align and prioritise investment across sectors and boost collaboration between universities and industry, driving commercial returns.
Case for change
In the 2020-21 Budget, the Government commissioned a $5.8 million scoping study to look at ways to increase the translation and commercialisation of Australian university research.
An expert panel of university and industry leaders, chaired by Mr Jeff Connolly, Chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia and New Zealand, was established in late 2020 to guide this work, and provide ways to bolster Australia’s research outputs. The group provided advice informed by real world experience of what works and doesn’t, and where critical change is needed in the sector.
In February 2021, we asked you how to improve the translation and commercialisation of Australian university research in a public consultation process. We received 171 submissions from universities, businesses, researchers, and government agencies through this process. This was supported by over 80 roundtable discussions with domestic and international bodies. Through this extensive process, there was cross sector support for new initiatives and reforms to uplift Australia’s commercialisation ecosystem.
Key success factors
The University Research Commercialisation Action Plan reflects key principles heard through the consultation process and analysis of successful international programs, providing lessons about success factors upon which to design reforms which can increase commercialisation and deliver positive economic outcomes. These five success factors are:
|At scale investments||Focused on specific priorities||Industry led||Well-established collaboration between businesses and universities||Engaged research institutions|
Infographic showing success factors:
- At scale investments: government funding is at scale and sustained over longer-term horizon.
- Focused on specific priorities: commercialisation investments typically directed national priorities, where industry demand and research capability area strong.
- Industry led: entrepreneurs and companies pull ideas through the innovation pipeline rather than relying on academics pushing ideas out.
- Well-established connection between universities and industry:
- Collaboration between universities and industry that is synergistic and includes workforce mobility.
- Engaged research institutions: Research institutions are open and engaged with industry.
Outcomes and actions
Australia’s Economic Accelerator
A $1.6 billion new stage-gated program dedicated to funding translation and commercialisation in national priority areas. Projects will receive funding dependent on meeting requirements across the applied and experimental stages of the research, with successful projects graduating into Main Sequence Ventures.
Trailblazer Universities Program
$242.7 million to support select universities to boost prioritised research and development and drive commercialisation outcomes with industry partners. This includes a total of $30 million for participating universities to partner with CSIRO and access specialist equipment to supercharge their commercialisation capabilities.
Workforce mobility initiatives
Establish a suite of Industry PhD and research fellowship schemes that span the research career pathway and add 1,800 Industry PhDs and over 800 Industry fellows over 10 years. This $296 million investment will fundamentally challenge promotion and reward structures in Australia’s universities and encourage mobility and collaboration.
Expanding CSIRO’S Main Sequence Ventures
$150 million to expand CSIRO’s Main Sequence Ventures as the final stage of Australia’s Economic Accelerator to catalyse venture capital investment in Australian R&D to continue the channel for high value opportunities to be taken to market.
Intellectual Property Framework
A new IP framework for universities will include standardised terms, clauses, and agreements for collaboration on IP licensing, options, and assignment, which will drive greater collaboration by universities and greater uptake of world-class Australian research outputs by Australian industry. Consultation is underway.
Establish a CSIRO Research Translation Start Program (CSIRO’s ON)
$37.4 million to establish a new CSIRO Research Translation Start Program (CSIRO’s ON), based on the proven ON program, to build the entrepreneurial and commercialisation skills of university, and other publicly funded researchers. The new program will improve the ability of researchers to engage with business, driving greater uptake of their research and ideas.
If you would like to find out more about the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan, please contact the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.