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Comprehensive CRC Review focuses on growth through innovation and collaboration

19 May 2015

An updated and more targeted Cooperative Research Centres Programme will build stronger connections between research and industry, as the Australian Government implements the findings of the expert review into the delivery of the CRC Programme.

Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane said a key finding of the review was that the CRC Programme was valuable and effective, but had scope for improvement.

“Australia’s CRCs have a notable record of facilitating research and development in a range of areas by bringing together researchers, industry and the community,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The Australian Government has committed more than $731 million to the CRC programme this year and over the forward estimates. Since 1991, the Government has committed more than $4 billion to the programme and has supported 209 CRCs on a merit-based system.

“CRCs have made an important contribution to diverse and high quality research, but more can be done to ensure the valuable research done by CRCs is translated into practical and commercial outcomes that not only benefit the Australian community, but also have the best opportunities for international applications.

“The review by prominent lawyer and innovation expert Mr David Miles AM found that the programme should continue with a new, more targeted focus to meet the Government’s priority of putting science at the centre of industry policy, according to a review released today.

“CRCs have delivered significant economic, environmental and social benefits over the last 25 years by successfully linking researchers with end users, but it was time to review the programme’s goals and structures to ensure Australia gets the best return on our significant investment in science and research.  

“This comprehensive, high quality review has developed 18 practical recommendations that the Government will now implement.

“These recommendations put industry front and centre in the CRC Programme, ensuring that CRCs focus on improving the productivity of all Australian industries, establishing industry-led research, and improving research commercialisation.

“As part of this, CRCs will be the engine of innovative research to support the work of the five industry Growth Centres established under the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.

“This comprehensive approach, utilising the full range of Australia’s research resources, will create new opportunities and jobs in sectors where we are globally competitive, developing and commercialising ideas identified by the Growth Centres, and taking them to markets.

“Strengthening the CRCs’ ability to connect researchers and industry in these sectors will ensure that our research investment drives a competitive and forward-looking economy.

“The report also recommends improving smaller organisations’ access to the programme by establishing an additional stream, CRC Projects or CRC-Ps, for short-term industry-led research designed to benefit small and medium enterprises in particular.”

A new CRC Advisory Committee will be appointed to implement the recommendations of the review and to oversee the revised CRC Programme. Distinguished business leader Mr Philip Clark AM will Chair the group, working with Dr Megan Clark AC, Dr Michele Allan and Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC.

“An advisory committee has been a key part of the CRC Programme since it began 25 years ago. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the outgoing committee for the work it has undertaken, its high quality advice and the outstanding service of its members. The new committee will build on this work and drive the revised programme forward,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The CRC Programme Review can be found at www.business.gov.au/CRC-Review and the Department of Industry and Science will commence consultations on new CRC guidelines shortly.

Media contact: Mr Macfarlane's office 02 6277 7070