Science Council recommends adoption of science and research priorities
Professional Scientists Australia President Robyn Porter has welcomed the progress on science and R&D policy activity coming out of the 13 April Commonwealth Science Council (CSC) meeting.
“After much lobbying by the science community and the tireless and persistent work carried out by the Chief Scientist, it’s gratifying to see proposed initiatives being progressed by the Science Council”, she said.
“The Council has recommended the adoption of the proposed science and research priorities and agreed that a formal response to the Chief Scientist’s STEM report is needed.”
“It’s critical that we have regulatory and policy settings in place which focus on job creation, boosting commercial returns from research, building world-class research infrastructure and ensuring we’re building rather than losing our science capability,” she said.
“We need to guarantee a secure pipeline for future STEM skills and ensure science and R&D play the central role they should in improving the nation’s innovative capability and competitiveness – the advisory work being undertaken by the Science Council is vital to making this happen.”
The CSC met and endorsed the emphasis on applied research Industry that Minister Macfarlane and Chief Scientist have agreed should be the focus of research funding. The nominated priority areas endorsed by the CSC and expected to be approved by Government shortly are food, soil and water, transport, cyber security, energy, resources, manufacturing, environmental change and health. Professor Chubb set out a range of practical challenges identified for each research priority as determined by expert working groups. The meeting recommended that the National Science, Technology and Research Committee oversee capability mapping for each of these practical challenges. Further work on STEM policy will be led by the Minister for Industry and Science in conjunction with the Minister for Education and Training and the Chief Scientist.
The Minister for Education and Training and the Minister for Industry and Science updated Council members on the progress of:
- implementing the Government’s plan to boost commercial returns from research, as part of the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda, including release of the draft intellectual property toolkit;
- the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering’s work on testing data for research engagement metrics;
- outcomes of the Review of the Australian Curriculum to further strengthen the Science curriculum and the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group recommendation that every new primary teacher will graduate with a subject specialisation, prioritising science, mathematics or a language; and
- work identifying opportunities to strengthen recognition of industry-relevant expertise or research in Commonwealth competitive research funding programs.
Research infrastructure review panel chair, Mr Philip Clark AM presented an interim report with the final report on options for a new research infrastructure funding model for Australia expected mid-year.
Council members agreed on a future work program including:
- a Government response to the Chief Scientist’s report: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future;
- adoption of science and research priorities, and capability mapping for each of the practical challenges;
- implementation of the Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research strategy;
- implementation of the Industry Growth Centres initiative; and
- the final report of the Research Infrastructure Review.
It is also understood that the Science Council discussed the Miles Review of Cooperative Research Centres with the program expected to survive but with a greater emphasis on industry-focused applied science.