Prime Minister Scott Morrison will unveil more of his plan to build national health and economic resilience on Tuesday, including an additional $2 billion of budgeted but previously unannounced spending on research commercialisation.
In a speech to the National Press Club, the Prime Minister will reflect on Australians' disrupted summer and lessons from the storms, floods and Omicron wave that build on the government's plans for the economy and health system.
The government will pump money from a pool of $1.6 billion into high potential research projects early in their development to combat the early funding gap phenomenon known as the "valley of death". This was the recommendation from a taskforce the government established in late 2020 to advance its University Research Commercialisation Action Plan.
The government will call this funding Australia's Economic Accelerator and it will operate as a competitive program designed to attract projects at proof of concept or proof of scale and relevant to six priorities areas: defence, space, resources technology, food and beverage, clean energy and medical products.
Industry involvement and engagement is required at every stage.
"When it comes to driving commercialisation outcomes, the key policy challenge concerns the so-called 'valley of death' - where early-stage research is frequently not progressed to later stages of development because of the risk and uncertainty about commercial returns," Mr Morrison will say.
"We know this is not insurmountable. Other countries have made a better fist of solving this problem and the government's expert panel made a point of looking at this evidence in detail."
Where the $2.2 billion is going:
- $1.6 billion for early funding of high-need projects
- $150 million for CSIRO's Main Sequence Ventures
- $296 million for industry-focused PhDs
- $247 million for Trailblazer Universities
Some 85 per cent of Australian research was rated at or above world standard, he will say, but continues to underperform in achieving commercialisation outcomes.
"We need to find and develop a new breed of researcher entrepreneurs in Australia," he will say.
To bring researchers closer to industry the government announced in November it was spending $247 million on Trailblazer Universities.
Mr Morrison will further announce a $150 million expansion of the CSIRO Main Sequence Ventures program fostering start-up companies, and $296 million reserved for 1800 industry focused PhDs and 800 fellowships.
Private industry employs 40 per cent of Australia's researchers - below the OECD average.
Skills and acting Education Minister Stuart Robert attracted criticism over the summer by exercising his ministerial discretion to overrule six Australian Research Council discovery project grants for research in humanities subjects including China, English literature and climate activism. Two members of the college of experts quit in protest. Coalition ministers have overruled numerous ARC recommendations in previous years as well.