Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is to announce on Tuesday a A$2billion plan to boost manufacturing by commercializing the country’s research, an initiative that comes against a backdrop of worsening polls months before an election.
Morrison, in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra, will reflect on lessons learned from storms, floods and the Omicron coronavirus wave that disrupted Australians’ summer, according to excerpts of his speech seen by Reuters.
He will also outline his government’s focus on building health and economic resilience, officials said.
Morrison will say efforts to boost manufacturing and supply chain resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic need to be linked to world-class research at universities.
He will say that 85% of Australia’s research is rated at or above world standard, yet it continues to underperform in achieving commercialisation outcomes.
“We need to find and develop a new breed of researcher entrepreneurs in Australia,” Morrison will say in the speech.
His government will fund a A$2.2 billion plan to commercialize research, including A$1.6 billion for a programme to bridge a so-called valley of death for early-stage research caused by higher levels of risk and uncertainty about commercial returns.
“We know this is not insurmountable. Other countries have made a better fist of solving this problem,” he will say.
The science agency CSIRO will get A$150 million to expand a venture capital programme backing start-ups. Another A$296 million will be allocated over the next decade to universities to fund 1,800 PhDs and 800 fellowships with an industry focus.
Only 40% of Australia’s researchers work in private industry – well below the OECD average, he will say.
“This, together with low mobility between industry and the university sectors, leads to culture and capability gaps that reduce the ability of Australian businesses to innovate.”
A Newspoll conducted for the Australian newspaper on Monday showed satisfaction with Morrison’s performance dropped 5 points to 39% in January, the lowest since March 2020, amid criticism of his government’s handling of the Omicron outbreak.