1 February 2022

The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) is ready to leverage our strong links with industry and capitalise on the significant and nation building $2.2 billion investment in research commercialisation announced today by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

ATN has consistently advocated for the Government to align its research agenda under a unified strategy and to support the exchange of people between universities and industry. The Government has now done that by aligning the new $1.6 billion Australia’s Economic Accelerator program with its Modern Manufacturing Strategy and supporting 1,800 new industry PhDs and 800 industry fellowships through a $296 million investment.

In addition the $150 million to expand CSIRO’s Main Sequence Ventures and the $247 million Trailblazer Universities Program make this one of the more significant, long-term and scalable investments in Australia’s research, innovation and ideas in recent years. Australia can secure its economic future with our own ideas, expertise, skills and people – with the announcement today, the Government has recognised that universities are central to this success.

Industry engagement is core business for ATN universities and we are ready to make the most of these new opportunities. ATN is already putting this into practice with two universities shortlisted for the Trailblazer Universities Program, our ATN Frontiers program preparing the next generation of research entrepreneurs to take their ideas to industry, and our partnership with ATSE to deliver a scholarship program for women in STEM.

Opportunities for research commercialisation are built on the foundation of a pipeline of skilled graduates in national priority areas, a pipeline of fundamental discovery research, and a healthy international education system (including PhD students). ATN hopes to see further support for these important precursors, so we can maintain our supply of ideas and expertise to industry.

ATN acknowledges the work of Mr Jeff Connolly, Chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia and New Zealand, and the members of the expert panel advising the Government on university research commercialisation.

Quotes attributable to ATN Chair and Deakin University Vice Chancellor, Professor Iain Martin:

“Universities are the key to generating new ideas that build Australia’s innovation ecosystem. This significant investment is a recognition of the need for a tripartite approach between the Government, universities and industry to ensure Australia’s ongoing prosperity.”

“We particularly welcome the industry PhDs and industry fellowships that will help strengthen and deliver the workforce required for this economic transformation.”

Quotes attributable to ATN Executive Director, Mr Luke Sheehy:

“With this $2.2 billion investment, the Morrison Government has recognised that our universities are a powerhouse of new ideas and innovation.”

“ATN universities have already demonstrated through the Trailblazer Universities Program and our own ATN Frontiers program that we are ready to take our ideas to industry and meet the needs of our rapidly changing economy and society.”