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Go8 Media Release: Go8 welcomes linkage grants success but cautions such research capacity is at risk

The Group of Eight (Go8), which is comprised of Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, has welcomed the decision to invest nearly $15 million or about two-thirds of the funding pool across 39 of 61 Australian Research Council (ARC) linkage grants announced today, in addition to very significant funding from our outstanding business and industry partners.

“Today’s announcement on the back of the Go8 – IP Group $200 million commercialisation initiative launch earlier this week sends a clear message: industry partners want to collaborate with world class research institutions and in Australia that is the Go8,” says Vicki Thomson Go8 Chief Executive. “But this comes at a cost to our universities.

“We are at all times committed to research excellence and to the strong relationship with industry that such linkage grants demand,” says Vicki Thomson Go8 Chief Executive. “But it is prudent to comment that the ARC monies awarded do not cover the total cost of the research projects. Industry will contribute and our universities must typically find another 50 to 100 cents in the dollar, that is, $7 – $14 million on today’s announcements to pay for the indirect research costs required so that the projects can proceed.”

Ms Thomson said that the continual erosion of university funding meant universities increasingly had less financial capacity to co-fund research. “There is a widespread misconception that grants cover research costs of the projects they support. They do not. In fact, the more grants received, the more funds universities must outlay.

“The value of universities partnering in research with industry has been set out this week in a report commissioned by the Office of the Chief Economist. That report states that research spending through universities fostered a research and development ecosystem by encouraging companies to invest in their own research and development. That is invaluable to the future of our economy.

“Yet all this is at risk if Government does not comprehend the damage continual funding cuts are causing the sector. We do not want to see a time when critical industry and fundamental research projects are unaffordable for our best researchers.”

Ms Thomson said projects such as UNSW’s research to improve facial identification accuracy, Monash’s research to develop a non-invasive body-worn device to monitor blood pressure continuously in real time and the University of Melbourne’s research to find new fertiliser technologies for sustained food security would have enormous positive impact.

“The ARC linkage grants are an important recognition of the quality industry linked research being carried out in our universities. The Go8 is disappointed that poor policy decisions out of the May Budget contradict that recognition. The Go8 therefore can appreciate and welcome the grants awarded but it will not support the Government’s policy direction,” said Ms Thomson.

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

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