Ag on innovation agenda

07 Dec, 2015 10:30 AM
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22
 
for every dollar the government invests in rural R&D, farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years

THE Turnbull government’s $1.1 billion new national innovation and science agenda has included an agriculture and regional focus.

The ambitious new program was released today by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne, at CSIRO in Canberra.

Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Warren Truss said the new innovation agenda included a range of initiatives to benefit industries, businesses and families in rural and regional areas, including program focused on research, education and business growth.

He said importantly, the agenda included initiatives to foster new start-ups, help businesses to grow and prepare young Australians for the opportunities of the future, wherever they might be located.

“We know that for every dollar that the government invests in rural R&D, farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years,” he said.

“With the global population growing rapidly and arable lands shrinking, Australian farmers and related businesses are uniquely placed to help fill the world’s food basket.

“As in all sectors of the economy, innovation and R&D play a vital role in increasing agricultural productivity and farmer profitability; those benefits flow through the whole of the regional economy and are fundamental to our national prosperity.”

Mr Truss said the Rural R&D for Profit program – an election commitment of the Coalition government - funded R&D projects which a focus on delivering cutting-edge technologies and making research outcomes accessible to primary producers.

He said Australia’s 15 rural research and development corporations were relied upon by industry and government to jointly fund R&D for agricultural industries to improve productivity, sustainability and product quality.

“The Australian government provides about $250 million each year to fund R&D through these corporations,” he said.

“This is in addition to ongoing agricultural research undertaken by other government-funded agencies, including Cooperative Research Centres and the CSIRO, and our universities.

“The new initiatives in the Innovation and Science Agenda build on this existing foundation to further support innovation in regional Australia, such as through the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the Industry Growth Centres Initiative.”

Mr Truss said there were also new program and support designed to boost innovative activity and help businesses to break into global markets.

“New initiatives will also make it easier than ever to collaborate with universities, research institutions and government,” Mr Truss said.

“Modern digital technologies, so important in the regions for bridging the tyranny of distance, can enable regional, rural and remote Australians to get involved in new industries and job opportunities.

“The Australian government is investing in the industries of the future and emerging opportunities with these new initiatives and regional Australia’s growth and prosperity is front-and-centre in that thinking.”

The government’s statement on the new agenda for farming and rural communities said strong, vibrant, innovative and sustainable rural industries and communities were in Australia’s national interest.

“Farm production in 2013-14 was valued at $51 billion, with agriculture contributing to around 2 per cent of Australia’s GDP and 15 per cent of total Australian merchandise exports,” it said.

“As the mining construction boom moderates and the economy transitions the sector will need to continue to embrace innovation and adapt and grow.

The government said the new strategy would provide seed funding for collaborative science workshops with regional economies on shared challenges, like food and biosecurity.

It will also support Australian business and research consortia to work with their international counterparts.

“The Incubator Support Programme will focus on regions and sectors with high innovation potential such as those identified in a Science and Research Priority,” a statement said.

“Sharpening incentives for university engagement with research end users will ensure their efforts have tangible benefits for the agricultural sector.

“Further funding for regional universities will create more opportunities for our regions.”

Mr Turnbull said the government would invest $1.1 billion via the agenda to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking, and promote science, maths and computing in schools.

He said it would focus on four priority areas:

  • Culture and capital, to help businesses embrace risk and incentivise early stage investment in startups;
  • Collaboration, to increase the level of engagement between businesses, universities and the research sector to commercialise ideas and solve problems;
  • Talent and skills, to train Australian students for the jobs of the future and attract the world’s most innovative talent to Australia; and
  • Government as an exemplar, to lead by example in the way Government invests in and uses technology and data to deliver better quality services.
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    Colin Bettles

    Colin Bettles

    is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
    Date: Newest first | Oldest first

    READER COMMENTS

    angry australian
    7/12/2015 12:15:01 PM

    There are lies, damn lies then there are politicians that don't know what they're talking about! So Mr Truss what exactly does " “We know that for every dollar that the government invests in rural R&D, farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years,” mean? Is it inflation adjusted? Can you show me audited figures from an accountancy firm to support the comment? Or,is it, one of those BS comments put in by advisers to make it appear that the particular pollie knows what he's babbling about? Warren,IF there was that rate of return, government wouldn't need levies the tax take would be ample!
    boris
    7/12/2015 1:11:33 PM

    Its just welfare for researchers, what a waste. Government just needs to lower taxes and regulation, that all an entrepreneur needs.
    Chick Olsson
    7/12/2015 1:33:30 PM

    Agree A Australian. I don't see how this ' Innovation Package' actually helps the business community except those who have been bankrupt previously... says a lot about the character of this whole package
    nico
    8/12/2015 6:01:47 AM

    If you have an ideological objection to publicly funded science, blinkered Australia is probably the place for you. SE Asian countries, the Europeans, and the USA invest far more in science and innovation, and this brings in a very high return. This is well documented. For an Australian perspective, see the recent Deloitte report: http://www.smartinvestment.unsw.e du.au/sites/default/files/documen ts/Economic%20contributions%20of% 20UNSW%20-%20Final%20report%20-%2 0Deloitte%20Access%20Economic.... pdf
    angry australian
    8/12/2015 8:09:42 AM

    Question Nico, why does the taxpayer owe your lot a living? When is the Australian scientific community going to pay its own way? I have read many Deloitte type reports of the type you are citing, my only comment is I often find that they tend to heavily favour those who commissioned the report, so I won't bother with this one.As for my industry, I can only wonder about the $billions,government and industry funded, that disappears annually in the gurgler called R&D yet our primary producers are no better,maybe even worse off!
    nico
    8/12/2015 9:58:40 AM

    Angry, I don't know who you think are "your lot", but you totally miss the point when you claim that the scientific community does not "pay its own way". Every analysis by economic professionals like Deloitte says that the return on dollars invested in science is up to 30-1. This is even more true in USA than Australia. You may refuse to "bother" with facts that you don't like, but that doesn't make them less factual. See: https://www.americanprogress.org/ issues/economy/report/2012/12/10/ 47481/the-high-return-on-investme nt-for-publicly-funded-research/
    John Carpenter
    8/12/2015 10:45:34 AM

    This is mere tokenism aimed at giving the illusion that the government is "doing something".Big government and innovation are polar opposites.If they really want to spur innovation and start ups they should slash income and capital gains taxes,deregulate and take a chainsaw to Fair Work Australia.
    nico
    8/12/2015 11:57:05 AM

    John C, you may be right that big government and innovation are poles apart. However, that doesn't change the fact that investment in science brings good dividends. Public money is not wasted when it is invested in research - it's not big government doing the research, it's the scientific institutions which in turn need the support of public funding, either through philanthropy (the US model) or the Australian/European model, where research institutes and universities are funded by the community - and the community is richly rewarded.
    angry australian
    8/12/2015 1:20:40 PM

    Nico, you keep making these outrageous assertions you can not back up except by citing documents not only of dubious value,but which you probably haven't read or comprehended. You claim that "that investment in science brings good dividends", well down at the coalface where the people are writing the cheques for this "science", the tale is apparently different. If the "scientific community" was so confident about its ability it would need no taxpayer or industry funding for it would be certain of its ability to "sell" me its finished product.
    John Carpenter
    8/12/2015 4:16:37 PM

    Just like motherhood, Nico, it is axiomatic that science is good.The US is the great global driver of science and innovation.Philanthropy plays a role but it is the gigantic expenditure on military and space programs that have really pushed these epoch changing waves of technology innovation.Added to this US risk takers can reap huge rewards from introducing new technologies due to free ,markets,low capital gains taxes and the huge US economy.The concept of the dead hand of the Australian government and it's hordes of public employees leading the charge on science and innovation is laughable
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