Professionals Australia has launched the “Still the Clever Country” campaign advocating for the value of science, innovation and R&D in Australia.
I think most of us would agree that many critical questions currently face the science community and the nation more broadly – around investment, the science and R&D workforce, STEM education and getting science and industry working more closely together and getting greater commercial returns from research.
- What level of public investment in our science and R&D workforce will properly support our science and innovation capability?
- How do we attract and develop the next generation of science professionals?
- How do we find the right balance between industry-driven and blue skies research?
- How do we encourage business investment in R&D, support the move toward a greater number of researchers working in industry and more effective translation of discoveries into products and services to take to market here in Australia?
- Fundamentally, what kind of support, structures and practices in science and R&D will be necessary to allow us to meet the contemporary and future challenges we face?
Our ‘Still the Clever Country?’ report is the result of a survey of over 500 of our scientist members where we asked these questions. The report shows that they are uniquely placed to give us informed and intelligent insights into these key challenges.
The report’s sister publication ‘Realising Innovation through Science and R&D’ is the blueprint we developed for dealing with some of the key issues at the workplace and structural levels they identified.
We are launching this campaign in an environment in which the value of science and research and R&D are in question.
Now more than ever, we need to understand that investment in science, engineering and technology is a predictor of national innovative capability and productivity into the future.
We acknowledge the challenges in balancing fiscal responsibility and supporting science and R&D. This being said, we also hold the firm view that our future as a science and innovation leader should be driven by strategy not finance. Suggesting that Australia can’t afford to invest in science and innovation – and cutting funding without understanding the capabilities being lost – is false economy at its worst.
Growing a science and technology workforce with the STEM and other capabilities needed to drive innovation and productivity improvement over the next decade will require stable, strategic and sustainable investment in science and R&D and the development of world-class infrastructure to support it.
It is critical that we position Australia now for a future as a science and innovation leader. This is what our members told us – and this is the key message of Still the Clever Country?
President, Professional Scientists Australia