Research infrastructure funding a win, but R&D Tax Incentive an economic opportunity missed

9 May 2018

The Group of Eight (Go8) which represents Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, has welcomed the Budget announcement of additional research infrastructure funding.

However, the reform of the R&D Tax Incentive, does disappointingly miss an opportunity Australia badly needs to drive greater research collaboration between business and universities. This is an avenue our competitor nations grasped some time ago as nation-building, but one Australia does not prioritise.  

Vicki Thomson Go8 Chief Executive says the Go8 does however have a greater sense of optimism regarding the future of research infrastructure funding with the announcement of $1.9 billion over 12 years through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

“The uncertainty of university research infrastructure funding has been threatening to become a serious bottleneck for Australia’s world class university research sector, the hub of Australia’s research effort,” she said.

“The Go8 alone supports nearly 25,000 researchers and invests over $6 billion in R&D each year. Much of this is dependent on research infrastructure. While the devil will definitely be in the detail of the yet to be released Government research infrastructure investment plan there can be no doubt that the bolstering of NCRIS infrastructure funding by $200m this year and by $393m over the next five years, is a positive that we welcome,” said Ms Thomson.  

Ms Thomson also said that the Go8 accepted the Budget’s efforts to tighten the use of the R&D Tax Incentive by business. “But these changes fall far short of the integrated and system-wide approach to support for research and innovation that is needed.

“The Go8 believes that there must be stronger incentives in place for business R&D to connect with Australia’s world class university research sector where most of Australia’s researchers work, she said. “Real incentives would shift us from a nation in which business expenditure on R&D has dramatically dropped as a proportion of GDP, to one that can compete with our peers – our competitors – around the world.”

Ms Thomson said the Go8 would now work constructively with Government on these strategic issues in the interest of Australia’s future economic security.

Contact:               Vicki Thomson    Group of Eight Chief Executive   on +61 417 808 472