The Government’s endorsement of the review of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) is an important step to improving industry driven research.
Making industry the driver of the CRCs, which requires industry-led Centres with a clear focus on industry based problems, goes to the heart of the challenge – to get industry to take responsibility to identify research needs and pursue them, drawing in the breadth of university research capability.
The creation of a new stream, CRC Projects, widens the scope of the program, recognising that the industry research needs can be of various size and complexity, with smaller enterprises needing some simpler options.
The Government focus on the national science priorities and the five Industry Growth Centres can work as long as there is scope for other industry areas to make the case for support to ensure we do not neglect emerging industries and opportunities. As the report says “the programme should continue to be available to all industry sectors” including those not considered areas of existing comparative advantage.
The report’s focus on approving CRCs to address a problem rather than to operate for a period may address the long standing problem of what happens once a CRC’s term concludes. The receipt of Government funding is always helpful but if the link between researchers and industry has been productive, the capacity of industry partners to bear the necessary costs should be there.