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Three-fold return on investment shows value of research

Science & Technology Australia Media Release

A three-fold return on public investment from Australian Research Council-funded research highlights “strong economy-powering returns” for taxpayers from university research – and makes the case to double the ARC grants budget to back more of Australia’s brilliant researchers to be first to bold breakthroughs.

A major independent study released today examines the economic returns generated by research grants made under the funding body’s National Competitive Grants Program. It finds every dollar invested in Australian research under the program generates $3.32 in economic returns for the country.

The Impact Assessment of ARC-funded Research report also found that ARC-funded research from 2002–21 will increase economic output for Australia by $184.3 billion, boost the income of Australians by $152.5 billion, and create 6,570 jobs per year across Australia.

“An investment in Australian research is an investment in our country’s future,” said Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert.

“This economic modelling shows the crucial role research plays in generating economic growth, powering job creation and productivity, and putting more wealth into the pockets of Australians.”

“It makes a compelling argument for a significant boost in research funding. Right now Australian R&D spending is dangerously low and in free fall – last week it slumped to just 1.68% of GDP.”

“That’s well below the OECD average of 2.74% and a country mile from the 3% target Australia needs.”

“These figures also show the cost of under-investment in Australian research. Every dollar not spent on research is $3.32 in economic activity lost. Imagine how many jobs could be created, how much wealth generated, and how many life-improving advancements could be invented through a powerful boost to the nation’s research funding.”

“A bold boost to Australian research funding is an urgent imperative. It’s what will create the jobs, services, and products of tomorrow, and the future powered by science” the Prime Minister has called for.”

Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 115,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our flagship programs include Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors.

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  1. New England Cocky

    These data about the financial dollar value shows the lie of the1996 actions of Little Johnnie Howard in stripping about $1 BILLION from Australian university research and gifting it to American research entities to sun-contract the same Australian researchers while keeping a large proportion of the Howard gift as profit.
    There is little doubt that Australian scientific research desperately requires more government funding to continue to attract the best innovative brains into those ranks.
    The alternative for prospective researchers to spend literally years learning and refining their research skills to waste too much time applying for on-going funding on an annual basis denies the reality that even researchers require income reliability to borrow for housing and other necessities for living. Research is NOT a religious calling, but an ”industry” building a better world for all Australians, rather than the ”import only” economy desired by the management classes and their political lackies.
    Why would any thinking person study for 10-15 years at university to become an unappreciated casual labourer in an education mill where desk jockey administrators earn as much or more than professors?

  2. Clakka

    Yep, good! If they could just sort out the mess that is the Oz universities. Who says that academics converted to competitive boards, managers and bean-counters aren’t complete arseholes?

  3. wam

    Today’s unis are bum’s on seats businesses with abundant HECS, HEES and Aboriginal TAFE grants cash to splash.
    Vice-chancellors need desk jockeys and tradies, professores non necessarium sunt.

  4. paul walter


    Wam, appreciate your disappointment.

    As nec says, much of this goes to Howard’s harsher and less helpful for the country, neo lib policies. Labor had a little of the rationalism still but from then on it was about hollowing out the economy for foreign “friends. Monetisation joined in and the system limped, whoever was “in”.

    Much of the guff on media is an appeal to older less intrusive times, but life itself has become clogged with new bullshit as soon as an old lot is cleared.

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