Positive measures and missed opportunities in University Research Commercialisation action plan

February 03, 2022

The Australian Academy of Science welcomes the Australian Government’s University Research Commercialisation action plan which contains a range of targeted and positive policy measures to further stimulate the commercialisation of research.

The Academy has identified several opportunities which would further enhance this suite of measures and that we recommend be considered in the implementation phase.


  • The introduction of two new priority-driven schemes – establishing Australia’s Economic Accelerator and expanding CSIRO’s Main Sequence Ventures, along with the Trailblazer Universities Program.
  • Funding of 1,800 industry PhD places and over 800 industry fellowships – such an approach offers more expansive collaboration with industry partners than existing programs. This follows calls by the Academy and EMCR Forum last year for the Australian Government and universities to develop schemes to build capacity in entrepreneurial and translation expertise, including facilitating greater mobility between research and industry.
  • Reforms for incentivising collaboration between research and industry – including adjusting $2 billion in existing university funding to incentivise collaboration and commercialisation and a new higher education IP framework.


  • Cross portfolio coordination – Australia has over 200 schemes and programs to support research and industry engagement across 13 portfolios. There is now an opportunity to maximise their impact by developing a cohesive and national approach to research funding. To date it is unclear how the new scheme will work alongside existing programs.
  • Incentives for industry – the action plan includes actions and incentives for universities and researchers to focus on translation activities, but does not include incentives for industry to engage with researchers. The main existing instrument that incentivises industry is the R&D tax incentive. There is an opportunity for the Government’s patent box mechanism to be expanded to cover the modern manufacturing priorities.
  • Knowledge brokering organisation to connect ideas, skills and facilities – an opportunity exists to improve the connection between industry and researchers through specialised knowledge brokers, similar to the customised services offered by independent organisations like Interface in Scotland.
President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine AC PresAA. Photo: Australian Academy of Science.

Responding to the announcement, President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, said Australia stands to benefit from the government’s renewed focus on science, innovation, and creative entrepreneurialism.

“Government has a unique role to play in bearing risk that the private sector will not take on, and measures to bridge the valley of death are welcome,” said Professor Shine.

“By supporting new ideas and discoveries that underpin innovations and products, we can improve the lives and livelihoods of all Australians. Research discoveries form a pool of intellectual capital that can be developed within Australia and globally.

“Australia will continue to rely on its strong track record of scientific discovery as the critical base for translation into commercial outcomes. Measures to stimulate commercialisation cannot come at the expense of support for basic research.

“Australian universities must be supported to operate across the continuum of basic to applied research and both academics and industry must be incentivised to translate ideas into commercial outcomes.

“Providing adequate and consistent support across the research pipeline requires developing a funding system with a balance between mobilising science to address national priorities, such as manufacturing, and providing researchers with the freedom to work on problems that may – and usually do – provide the basis of future industries, services and technologies.

“Given the complex nature of research funding and the myriad stakeholders involved, the Academy continues to call for a comprehensive review of the Australian system of research funding.

“This will help determine the most sustainable and effective way to support the research and development our future so heavily relies on.”

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