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Media release: Landmark A-UKFTA will drive innovation and research collaboration

The Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement is a landmark deal being the first in the history of any trade deal signed by the Australian Government to include an Innovation chapter.

The Group of Eight (Go8), which undertakes 70 percent of all university-based research in Australia, says the inclusion of an Innovation chapter must now mean something in reality to ensure the benefits of research and innovation are fully realised.

Go8 Chief Executive, Vicki Thomson, who has just returned from the US where she met with her US and UK counterparts to discuss research security and integrity, says the inclusion underscores the impact of innovation on our future partnership with the UK and is even more important given the AUKUS agreement.

“The inclusion of the Chapter is the first step in examining how our two nations utilise our research universities to drive innovation and commercialisation, with flow-on benefits to increased productivity and growth.

“This is now critical to delivering the advanced capabilities identified under Pillar 2 of AUKUS in areas such as AI and Quantum Computing,” Ms Thomson said.

“In preparation for the FTA entering into effect, the Go8 and the Russell Group – as Australia and the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and key contributors to the research that is fundamental to achieving our bilateral strategic goals – have been examining how to leverage opportunities provided by the A-UKFTA.

“In 2022 the Boards of the two groups committed to collaborate to increase two-way research collaboration, including increasing commercialisation activity, and to build on our status as trusted partners in areas of sensitive research.

“Further collaboration between Australian and UK research intensive universities will also be crucial should the UK not gain access to Horizon Europe, the world’s largest research fund, which the Go8 is also seeking access to.”

Ms Thomson said fostering stronger partnerships with like-minded countries through agreements such as the A-UKFTA and the trilateral AUKUS partnership is essential in this era of geopolitical change.

“The Go8 has advocated for the inclusion of a dedicated innovation chapter in future FTAs to support strategic and foreign policy objectives through world class innovation such as that carried out within the Go8.”


The Go8 and the Russell Group are their country’s key representative body for world-class research-intensive universities, with the eight members of the Go8 accounting for more than 70 per cent of Australia’s university research activity, and, comparably, the 24 members of the Russell Group producing 68 per cent of the UK’s university research activity. The world class research undertaken by the Group of Eight and Russell Group is critical to the economic future of both countries.

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