Inquiry into how Australian Government funds research projects

The Unversity of Tasmania has argued for a simpler system of research funding distribution and improvements to the way it allows for industry engagement.

A House of Representatives committee is examining the efficiencies and coherence with the federal government’s system of funding research agencies with an aim to identify opportunities to improve how research funding is administered.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Brigid Heywood said the university supported the continuation of a competitive grants system and block grant funding.

But she said the current system had barriers to engagement with industry partners by the university.

Professor Heyward said a more responsive system was needed if industry was to increase investment in research and development.

“Engagement and impact is the new measure for return on investment,” she said.

“There is still poor alignment between the timescales for research granting and business cycles resulting in some negative impact on industry engagement and commitment closing windows of opportunity.”

Professor Heyward said, however, the University of Tasmania was a nation leader in industry-led research with more than 400 business partners.

She said the university also welcomed the establishment of industry growth centres in regional areas.

Professor Heyward said while the government and university had a shared objective to increase the level of engagement between industry and students through industry-funded scholarships, this was poorly aligned with certain government policy directions.

Hearings will be held this month.