The breakthrough research that underpins every successful innovation and invention should be enshrined with a safeguard that at least 70% of the Australian Research Council’s National Competitive Grants Program be dedicated to discovery research.
In our submission on proposed amendments to the Australian Research Council Act 2001, we have urged the Australian Government and Parliament to safeguard discovery research.
The Australian Research Council is the main source of funding for non-medical discovery research in Australia’s research and development system – making it crucial to protect the pipeline of discoveries.
On behalf of STA’s 138 member organisations representing more than 115,000 scientists and technologists, we have called for discovery research to be protected in the amendments in a minimum 70:30 split between the ARC’s Discovery and Linkage grants programs.
“Discovery research is crucial knowledge-creation that powers all future applied research and innovation – we must safeguard Australia’s investment in it for the ages,” said STA CEO Misha Schubert.
“Without a strong pipeline of discovery research, Australia simply won’t be able to create the products, services, and jobs of tomorrow, with too little innovation to commercialise and grow our economy.”
“The proposed removal of the requirement for funding to be split between the Discovery and Linkage programs without ensuring protection for vital discovery research funding runs the risk of undermining Australia’s capability to generate seismic breakthroughs.”
STA has also recommended all successful grant applicants be notified under embargo by the ARC within 21 days of the proposed ARC Board’s approval.
“Researchers and their industry partners shouldn’t have to wait for months while working on funding-contingent contracts to find out if they’ve still got a job or secured project funding,” Ms Schubert said. “Every week makes a difference in people’s career and life choices.”
“This proposed change will help to improve the precarious nature of many research jobs and give Australia’s brilliant researchers more certainty over their futures.”
“We must nurture Australia’s research workforce amid the risk they will leave for our global competitors – greater certainty and faster response times for grant applicants will be a big stride towards that goal.”
STA also recommended the Department of Education release its proposed legislative amendments to the Act as an exposure draft with sufficient time for the sector to respond.
It has also recommended a clear delineation in the roles of the proposed ARC Board and its Advisory Committee and called for ARC Board appointments to reflect the full diversity of the research sector.
Media contact: Martyn Pearce, STA: 0432 606 828