Addressing the Universities Australia’s 2016 Higher Education Conference Mr Ferris said:
“Right now, despite a host of recent indicators praising our scientific and creative abilities, we are dead last in the OECD rankings of academia and business collaboration for innovation.
“Our alarming collaboration ranking is a direct contributor to our poor performance at commercialising our discoveries and this cannot continue. The good news is improving collaboration between research and industry is the low hanging fruit for quick wins when it comes to driving innovation.”
Mr Ferris said the Government’s announced changes to criteria for the allocation of research funding to universities are needed to reward engagement with industry.
“New arrangements recommended by Dr Ian Watt and taken up under the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda would simplify research block grants into two streams and seek to give universities an incentive to achieve greater industry and other end-user engagement, in addition to providing grants on the basis of traditional tests of research excellence,” Mr Ferris said.
“At the same time, I understand we need to continue to excel in fundamental research, I don’t accept that research excellence and clever commercialisation are mutually exclusive.
“Improving the research funding mix is welcome because it will encourage more and more researchers to reach out.
“In the same vein businesses can be encouraged to reach in to universities. I am working with Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, and John Fraser, Secretary of the Treasury, on a review of the R&D Tax Incentive Programme.
“That Review is considering options to better reward businesses that engage with universities and other publicly funded research organisations.”