Henry has been fighting the interest rate wars.
Henry’s editor, PD Jonson, has been preparing a submission to the National Innovation System (NIS) Inquiry on behalf of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Committee, which he chairs.
What follows is the executive summary of that submission.
Members of the CRC Committee strongly endorse the CRC Program. We recognise that the CRC Program creates strongly polarised views – with harsh critics and strong supporters. We note that similar points can be made about any public or private organisation or institution, and we have chosen to be constructive about other parts of Australia’s innovation system.
Improvements to the CRC Program can and should be made, but the Committee believes the Program makes one of the strongest – and most rigorously measured - publicly funded contributions to Australia’s economy and innovation system.
In particular, the CRC Program has contributed to, and can continue to create, what a highly experienced innovator on the CRC Committee calls the “alchemy of growth”.
This submission assumes that the CRC Program is continued broadly in its current form, although it makes a significant number of recommendations for reform and improvement.
In particular, the Committee believes that:
• The CRC Program has delivered excellent returns from the investment of taxpayer funds and the benefits will continue to flow if the Program is continued. Indeed, the Committee believes that the CRC Program would deliver even greater benefits should the Program be expanded and revitalised as recommended in this submission.
• The CRC Program would be improved if it were seen as part of an expanded collaborative program designed to link researchers more securely with end-users in both commercial and non-commercial relationships. Other such programs include Australian Research Council Linkage grants, the Australian Institute for Commercialisation TechFast program and Information XChange.
• The CRC Program should be refreshed by again recognising the potential contribution of public benefit as well as private benefit CRCs and adopting a shorter life span (the Tri-Five model) for all but the most successful CRCs. Collaborations that demonstrate both great ongoing promise and a strong case for continued taxpayer investment should be funded separately as ongoing Centres of Collaborative Excellence.
• The CRC Program in the wider innovation system plays a vital, nearly unique, role in bringing university and other public sector research expertise together with end-users to meet important economic, social and environmental challenges. It has also generated a large number of industry ready university research postgraduates where previously almost none existed.
• There would be efficiencies (and therefore higher returns to the program) if administrative arrangements were streamlined. This submission makes a number of specific recommendations to achieve this.
• There is potential merit in supporting a small number of CRC commercialisation hubs, each serving a number of CRCs in closely related areas.
• The coordination of Government funding programs would be improved by establishing an independent statutory agency to administer all end-user focused collaborative research programs such as the CRC Program, Linkage Grants, Commercial Ready, TechFast, etc.
• Careful consistent measurement of the benefits – private benefits as well as national benefits – for all taxpayer-funded innovation programs needs to be devised and implemented (or at least verified) by a central agency.
For the broader innovation system, the CRC Committee strongly supports the reported comments at the 2020 Summit of former CSIRO Chair and “innovation expert”, Catherine Livingstone: “To develop a vibrant innovation system we as a community must develop a higher tolerance of risk and a higher tolerance of failure”.
We believe that changes to Australia’s taxation system would help in this endeavour, and endorse the concept of “negative gearing for entrepreneurs”. In particular, while no-one should object to paying tax, tax should only be levied when there is related cash flow following a genuine “liquidity event”. And relevant losses should be allowed as offsets to realised gains, always with appropriate anti-rorting safeguards of course.
The full submission is available at http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview/Pages/SubmissionstotheReview.aspx
Here is the specific link.
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