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New incentives will encourage universities to seek industry collaborators.

It is widely acknowledged that industry collaboration with Australian universities and research organisations is not strong by global standards.

Yesterday’s Innovation Statement announced an additional $127 million injection to university research block grants. The statement factsheet indicates that the incentives for universities to collaborate with the private sector will be strengthened by rewarding grant applicants equally if they receive research income from industry. This differs from traditional academic metrics such as the number of publications. This could cause a significant change to the ranking formula used to award competitive grants and would encourage universities to seek industry collaborators.

Strong incentives for research organisations need to be matched with strong incentives for industry in order to strengthen collaboration. For example, fast tracking competitive Australian Research Council's (ARC) Linkage project applications could aid businesses that can’t afford to wait for lengthy grant decisions (currently these can take up to nine months). Another measure announced under the Innovation Connection programme includes an $18 million investment to help businesses access Australia's innovation infrastructure.

IP Australia recently launched Source IP, designed to support the Australian Government's Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. According to IP Australia, "The initiative will seek to address a current barrier to collaboration and commercialisation in that business finds it hard to access information about available public sector IP". We are pleased that IP Australia has recognised this barrier and produced a searchable database of patents available for licence by Australian universities and research organisations. The list of participating organisations is comprehensive and there are approximately 350 available patents.

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