Industry-Research Collaboration

Australia’s research capabilities are world class. Despite this, Australia’s application of research to address commercial problems is substandard. Drawing on feedback from over 100 industry, government and research sector leaders, this report identifies ways to improve commercial outcomes through industry-research sector collaboration.

With investment shifting away from the mining and resources sector, a strong dollar and relatively high business costs, Australia is facing a serious productivity challenge. This challenge has put significant pressure on Australian businesses.

A strong and sustained focus on microeconomic reform, and accelerating the move to producing higher value products  and services, is vital in putting the Australian economy on a stronger footing. The knowledge created by our research institutions provides significant opportunities to increase the value-add of products and services delivered by the Australian economy.

An obvious area for accelerated action is to improve the frequency and effectiveness of collaboration between businesses and researchers, ensuring strong commercial outcomes from such endeavours.

As demonstrated in other jurisdictions, a powerful driver for productivity growth is innovation through collaborative research  and development (R&D). North America is the prime example of the success of collaborative R&D; where trillions of dollars in wealth has been created on the back of collaborative R&D, including the establishment of global brands such as Google  and Hewlett-Packard.

Australia has a clear competitive advantage in the production of research, both in terms of spend and quality. Australia  spends approximately $30 billion annually on R&D across all sectors, and is ranked 11 thin the world by the 2013 Global Innovation Index for innovation inputs (acknowledging Australia’s excellence in terms of publications and percentage of  GDP spent on R&D). However, when it comes to our efficiency in converting research dollars into innovation and commercial success, we perform poorly – ranking 116 out of 142 countries.

As a part of our Thinking Business: Industry-Research Collaboration Project, the Sydney Business Chamber and the NSW Business Chamber have identified practical solutions to improve the conversion of Australia’s considerable research expertise into commercial success. This paper provides a road map for government, industry and the research  sector to improve the effectiveness and frequency of industry-led collaborative research, harnessing Australia’s considerable research expertise to find innovative solutions for industry problems.The priority of the paper is to boost the frequency and effectiveness of collaboration that is driven by the business  community for a commercial purpose.


Luke Aitken

Senior Manager, Policy

With a strong background in urban affairs, Luke has helped lead the Chamber’s campaigns to reform local government, overhaul the NSW planning system and develop a Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek. In 2013, Luke took on the management of the Chamber’s thought leadership program, Thinking Business, and since then has delivered multiple projects examining critical business issues including the need to improve industry and research collaboration, the economic impact of a Western Sydney Airport and mechanisms to improve small business access to finance. These reports have provided practical recommendations to help shape and influence public debate.

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