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Media release: Focussed defence research funding agency crucial to safeguarding national security – Go8

April 28, 2022

The proposed creation of a new body focussed on funding defence related research will boost Australia’s sovereign capability, foster stronger linkages with the United States and United Kingdom and help safeguard Australia’s national security.

Group of Eight Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said: “In the current challenging geopolitical environment, it is crucial that Australia increase and target spending in the priority area of national security research. Today’s commitment from the Federal Opposition to establish an Advanced Strategic Research Agency (ASRA) is positive news for Australia’s defence research community.

“Go8 universities are the heavy lifters in the nation’s defence research capacity and have previously called for the creation of an Australian equivalent to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

“We invest almost $70 million in defence R&D each year, which is 44 per cent of the total university sector’s investment and we receive almost 80 per cent of total US Department of Defence funding to Australian universities.

“This is against a backdrop of declining government investment in R&D.”

In 2019-20, Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) was estimated to be $35.6 billion or 1.79 per cent of GDP, well below the OECD average of 2.51 per cent in 2019, and of the United States (3.18 per cent). Israel – often used as a comparator country by the Australian Government in formulating R&D direction – spends 5.14 per cent of its GDP on R&D.

“The UK recently established the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), and a similar Australian research body would not only enhance our linkages with the US and UK – but would ensure a dedicated and much needed funding stream for this vital research.

“Go8 universities have an important role to play in leveraging opportunities from the AUKUS agreement and are committed to working with our partners to deliver cutting edge research outcomes.”

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 438 047 155