A new roadmap for Australia’s research infrastructure

The federal government has appointed an Expert Working Group, chaired by Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO, to develop a new roadmap for the nation’s research infrastructure needs and priorities. The 2021 roadmap, to be released later this year, will replace the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap (May 2017).

The government agreed to implement nine key recommendations of the 2016 Roadmap, providing funding in its 2018 Budget to deliver on these recommendations over the ensuing decade. Now, it contends, new research infrastructure priorities must be determined for the $4 billion allocated to national research infrastructure to 2028-29.

In a joint ministerial release, the Hon Christian Porter, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, and the Hon Alan Tudge, Minister for Education and Youth said that major disruptive events have altered research needs and priorities substantively since 2017, requiring a new focus going forward.

“The world has changed significantly since the 2016 Roadmap and our national research infrastructure has played a vital role in supporting Australia’s recovery from events like bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Tudge said.

“Our world-class science and research will continue to contribute to Australia’s response to the evolving challenges and opportunities we now face, and the roadmap will ensure our efforts are focused on key areas.

“The roadmap will also support our research commercialisation agenda by identifying areas of opportunity at all stages of the research pipeline.”

New era, new capabilities

According to Minister Porter, the 2021 Roadmap will ensure Australia allocates funding to access the technologies it needs to remain at the forefront of worldwide research and industry breakthroughs.

“Cutting-edge capabilities don’t appear overnight,” Minister Porter said. “Through the roadmap process, we can identify the domestic research infrastructure needed to help existing industries expand and innovate.

“Investments in digital technology, science and research capability are fundamental to delivering on Government priorities, including boosting our manufacturing capability and securing Australia’s future prosperity and long-term productivity.”

Currently, the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) facilities employ 1,400 skilled technical staff and support 65,000 researchers across industry, higher education and government and a further 12,000 international researchers.

The Expert Working Group

The Expert Working Group (EWG) for the 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap will consult with the research community, universities, state and territory governments, industry and business to inform and guide development of the roadmap and direct future investments in national research infrastructure.

The six members of the EWG were selected for their experience in collaborative research, industry, innovation and advanced technology. They are:

The EWG also includes three ex-officio members:

  • Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM, Australia’s Chief Scientist;
  • Rob Heferen, Deputy Secretary Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE); and
  • David Williamson, Deputy Secretary in the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER)

Source: Christian Porter, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Media release, 28 May 2021