On Budget night, the Government announced a commitment of $1.9 billion new money for research infrastructure over 12 years including $393.3 million to implement the Research Infrastructure Investment Strategy following the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap consultation (click here to read our submission). However, other than the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth which would receive an additional $70m, the Government did not specify which facilities would receive the extra cash. It was expected that the spending allocations would be made according to a report from the Chief Scientist highlighting nine priority research areas for infrastructure spending.
Yesterday the Government announced a research infrastructure investment plan containing further detail on the structure of infrastructure spending and the nine priority areas.
Two funding streams have been identified – Investment Plan spending from 2017-18 to 2012-22 and NCRIS outlays from this financial year to 2028-29.
The nine research fields are:
- Australian National Fabrication Facility
Investment Plan: $36.2m, NCRIS: $103.2m for processing of materials for application in defence, sensors, medical devices, nanophotonics and nanoelectronics;
- Integrated Marine Observing System
Investment Plan: $22m, NCRIS: $14.9m for data streams and genomic technology to study Australia’s ocean economy;
- Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility
Investment Plan: $14.3m, NCRIS: $35.4m for equipment, instrumentation and expertise in microscopy and microanalysis widely-used optical, electron and X-ray techniques;
- Bioplatforms Australia
Investment Plan: $48m, NCRIS: $123.9m for next-gen sequencing and mass spectrometry for medicine, biomedicine, biotech, agri-business and environmental conservation;
- RV Investigator
Investment Plan: $31.1m, NCRIS: $31.15m for research on increasing the research vessel’s sea-time by 120 days to 300, funding to CSIRO;
Investment Plan: $1.5m, NCRIS: $41.5 for instrumentation and IT platform prioritising Earth imaging, subsurface observatory and spatial representation to discover, develop and manage of minerals, energy and groundwater resources;
- National Collection
Investment Plan: $43m, NCRIS: $43m for consolidation of national collection of animal and plant specimens, funding to CSIRO;
- Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network
Investment Plan: $7.4m, NCRIS: $18.8m for linking data sets for research and government use in urban environments and transport, funding to University of Melbourne; and
- Therapeutic Innovation Australia
Investment Plan: $29.3m, NCRIS: $49.3m for clinical trials for health outcomes and health system efficiencies, including biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
Professional Scientists Australia welcomes the funding allocation noting concerns of industry stakeholders that the Government has:
- chosen not to establish an independent advisory body to the Government;
- alongside this targeted investment, proposed the closure of the $3.8 billion Education Investment Fund; and
- failed to provide detail on the timing of funding allocations.