Home | Policy & Reform | Funding | Government’s science roadmap ‘needs fuel’: Universities Australia

Government’s science roadmap ‘needs fuel’: Universities Australia

The Australian Animal Health Laboratory, which hosts research into exotic livestock diseases, is just one facility flagged for upgrade under the government’s new National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.

In it, chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel, the Roadmap’s chairman, identified nine research areas that need attention if Australia is to maintain its scientific standing: digital data and e-research platforms; platforms for humanities, arts and social science; characterisation; advanced fabrication and manufacturing; advanced physics and astronomy; earth and environmental systems; biosecurity; complex biology; and therapeutic development.

The Roadmap, which was drafted following input from over 580 stakeholders, also encompasses nine recommendations for fulfilling the designated research, including investment, workforce upskilling and international engagement.

Major Australian research institutions, which employ 35,000 researchers, have welcomed the chief scientist’s ambitions, though they’re concerned about funding.

Professor Les Field, secretary for science policy at the Australian Academy of Science, explained this in a statement: “The academy now looks forward to the release of the government’s research infrastructure investment plan.

“Infrastructure funding in this plan must be longterm, strategic and insulated from annual budgetary fluctuations, consistent with the longterm nature … of research infrastructure investment.”

Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, reacted similarly to Field. Although she is enthusiastic about the prospect of further research into areas like advanced manufacturing, biosecurity and medical therapies, the question of inadequate investment lingers in her mind.

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