In its supplementary pre-Budget submission, Science & Technology Australia has outlined a bold vision for a “STEM-smart recovery” for Australia.
It proposes a series of clever strategic investments to drive major jobs growth, build on Australia’s existing STEM strengths, and build back stronger out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
STA is the peak body for the science and technology sectors, representing over 80,000 scientists and technologists spanning both the public and private sectors.
Even as the nation has relied on our STEM workforce to save lives amid the pandemic, the science and research sectors have been hit hard – and are now poised on the edge of a funding cliff.
This submission lays out a clear blueprint for the Australian Government to safeguard the vital national strategic asset of our science and research capability – and put it to work on the recovery.
This work draws inspiration from the strategy being pursued by the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who plans to double R&D outlays to reach £22 billion by 2024-25.
In its supplementary submission to the federal Budget, STA proposes the Australian Government:
- Announce a non-medical research translation fund to support the translation of cutting-edge Australian research into new products, services and Australian jobs;
- Expand funding for industry-led research programs such as CRC-Ps to generate economic returns and strengthen sovereign manufacturing capability;
- Add a 20% collaboration premium to the Research and Development Tax Incentive for businesses that work with public research institutions. Enable firms to claim the first three years of an early-career researcher’s salary if they hire STEM PhDs;
- Invest in a one-off boost to the Research Training Program to support 6-month extensions as a bridge to stop postgraduate researchers from falling out of Australia’s research workforce;
- Develop a Science Alliance program that provides professional development to early-career researchers and strengthens their engagement with industry; and
- Expand the Office of the Chief Scientist to resource ongoing rapid real-time evidence to support Government decision-making.
Science & Technology Australia President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie said the proposed strategic investments would be “a powerful foundation for a budget that invests strongly in new job creation and strengthens Australia’s traditional industrial base”.
“This plan would create Australian jobs by bringing science and technology more deeply into service across our economy including in farming, manufacturing and other traditional industries,” he said.
“There is a vast task of economic and social recovery ahead for our nation. We offer the skills, goodwill and commitment of the nation’s science, technology, engineering and maths sector – and its highly skilled workforce – to this major national effort.”
“Australia’s STEM sector has come into its own time and again during this pandemic.”
“Now we want to see the Government make clever new strategic investments to bring that same powerful contribution to the urgent task of economic and social recovery.”
STA’s full submission can be viewed on our website here