The Turnbull Government has accepted all 28 recommendations of the Watt Review into research policy and funding, and has already made significant commitments to stimulate innovation and improve collaboration between Australian researchers and industry.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Turnbull Government’s response builds on the $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda to strengthen Australia’s research system, encourage collaboration between universities and business, and to better translate research outcomes into economic and social benefits.

Minister Birmingham said the comprehensive review, led by Dr Ian Watt AO, would be a cornerstone for Australia’s approach to innovation.

“We need cultural change in our universities and businesses to better identify and support good research ideas that can be applied or commercialised to provide real-world measures that benefit all Australians and our economy,” Minister Birmingham said.

“The Turnbull Government’s commitment today to address all the recommendations of the report builds on the positive action we are already taking through the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

“The recommendations are based on feedback from a broad range of universities, researchers, business and industry leaders – experts with extensive knowledge and experience in the research and industry sectors who have told us what really works and what makes a difference to everyday Australians.

“Combined with the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Watt Review’s recommendations and our response sets a clear roadmap to delivering a high-performing research sector in Australia.

“As Australia’s economy shifts focus from one powered by the mining and construction industry to one powered by minds, we want to strengthen our research sector and unlock its potential. We know that businesses that collaborate with research organisations on innovation are three times more likely to experience productivity growth, improved sales and export activity.”

Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government had already implemented 12 key recommendations through the NISA, including: 

  • $180.2 million to boost university and industry engagement through streamlined university Research Block Grant arrangements;
  • shorter turn-around periods for funding decisions under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme including the introduction of a continuous application and assessment process;
  • a national assessment of university research engagement and impact; and$18 million in funding to expand the Innovation Connections Program.

The Government will work to address the remaining recommendations, including through consultation with the university and industry sectors about actions they should take to respond to the recommendations of the Watt review. They include:

  • further changes to ARC grants to better suit business;
  • focusing universities on improving their success rates in competitive research grant applications;
  • options to increase the number of PhD industry placements;
  • greater recognition of business experience in university appointments and promotions;
  • promoting greater access to intellectual property arising from publicly funded research and an annual assessment of the performance of Australia’s publicly funded research system.

The Watt Review report and the Turnbull Government’s response is available at: