I have kept an eye on the DIISR website, searching for some indication of the publication of the government’s response to the National Innovation System report (Cutler et al, 2008). Initially, the Bradley Review of Higher Education and the Cutler’s Review were being handled separately. However, that has officially changed today, as the DIISR website advises that:
The Government is considering the recommendations of both the Review of the National innovation System and the Bradley Review of Higher Education. The Government intends to take a holistic approach and will consider the recommendations of these reviews together and provide co-ordinate responses where appropriate.
Â A complete response to both of these reviews will be made in the budget context.Â
Â The remark about the “budget context” makes me think that the recommendations from the Cutler’s review will receive the same treatment than the recomendations from the Bradley review. Which boils down to the monies left after the post-Nation Building and Jobs Plan. So, while it would be nice to support 200 innovative firms annually at a cost of $150 million per year (as proposed in the “Venturous Australia” report), the reality is that the budget may not stretch that far.
Â Senator Carr declared this week that the Government would “progressively address the gap in funding for the indirect costs of research, subject to the capacity of future budgets”.
Further, Government expects universities to adopt activity-based reporting to track the costs of research. The Government will encourage “hubs and spokes” arrangements that support collaborative research networks between universities and research centres through sharing of capabilities and infrastructure. It is expected that this will lead to create critical mass in areas of excellence and strategic importance.
The definition of the “areas of excellence” is a crucial issue. If logic applies, those areas will be defined in terms of the national priorities for innovation recommended by Cutler et al:Â agricultural and food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, population health, tropical solutions and broadband applications. In a second tier we have areas such as resource industries, space and astronomy, finance and risk management and marine industries.
I noticed that Senator Carr is due to appear in the National Press Club on the 18 March. I suspect that this will be an opportunity to pitch the Government’s position to be reflected in the May budget. This will perhaps give a window of 2-3 weeks to industry, universities and research organisations to voice their opinions about the Government’s response to both the Bradley and Cutler reviews.