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New award to recognise success in science

25 February 2015

The Australian Government will recognise the practical and commercial successes of Australian scientists, with a new award to be added to the 2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane said that Australians make a significant investment in science through an annual Government budget of $9.2 billion.

“All Australians benefit from the advances in science and the best way to share the gains of our world-class scientists is to encourage stronger links between science and business,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The new prize, the Prime Minister’s Prize for the Commercial Application of Science, will promote building better links between researchers and industry and encourage entrepreneurship in our business and research communities.

“This is another practical illustration of the Government’s focus on ensuring Australians capitalise on new markets and new job opportunities – the central plank of our Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.

“Developments in Australian science have the potential to drive the innovations that create jobs and improve our quality of life.”

In their 15th year, the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science recognise outstanding achievements in science research and excellence in science teaching, and are Australia’s pre-eminent annual science awards.

The new prize for commercialisation of science complements the other prizes which have recognised discoveries like the cervical cancer vaccine; technology that made wireless computing fast and reliable; evidence of dark matter and dark energy in the universe; and technologies that help to make the oil and gas industry safer and more efficient.

Last year’s recipients of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science were Laureate Professor Sam Berkovic and Professor Ingrid Scheffer of the University of Melbourne, who led the way in finding the genetic basis for many types of epilepsy.

The introduction of the new prize means the Government has increased the total prize money to $700,000 across the six prizes to be awarded in 2015:

  • The Prime Minister’s Prize for Science recognises a significant advancement of knowledge through science.
  • The Prime Minister’s Prize for the Commercial Application of Science is awarded for the translation of science knowledge into a substantial commercial impact.
  • The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year and the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year acknowledge the work of our best early to mid-career scientists.
  • The Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools recognise excellence in science teaching with prize money shared equally between the recipient teacher and their school.

Nominations are now open for this year’s awards. For details visit: www.industry.gov.au/scienceprizes.

Media contacts: Mr Macfarlane's office 02 6277 7070