Australian R&D Review
Australian R&D Review
Linking Australian Science, Technology & Business
The ARDR provides you with an overview of what is happening in the Australian innovation system, across science, technology and industry. This includes science stories, technology development and science policy. Below is a selection of recently uploaded stories. For more stories across sectors please visit our main story page, or choose a sector of your interest under 'sections'.

Losing sight of average...

...and never mind the leaders.

As Australia's mining fortunes wane, the gap between the R&D intensity of Australia and competitor countries is again widening.

4 September - According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia's gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) increased by 6% in the two years to 2013-14. But its R&D intensity, measured as GERD relative to gross domestic product (GDP), decreased to 2.12%.

Meanwhile, leading OECD countries intensify their spending on R&D, with the average GERD to GDP ratio across the OECD climbing to 3.36% in 2013.

Behind Australia's downward trend is a steady decline in the R&D performance of its businesses, which since 2008-09 have wound back investments in R&D as a proportion of the full story

Blue dreaming

A blue economy is the vision of a new decadal national marine strategy

12 August - Two years ago the Australian Government's Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group led by Professor John Gunn published a position paper Marine Nation 2025: Marine Science to Support Australia's Blue Economy.

Its major recommendation was to develop a ten year plan for improving our marine science capabilities and to develop the 'blue economy' potential of our marine estate.

A National Marine Science Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Gunn, was formed and with input from 500 scientists and stakeholders the group of experts developed the now released marine science strategy for the period the full story

Food on the white board

The Government has released its Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper

4 July 2015 - A number of factors can be attributed to Australia's ongoing success in agriculture, including past policy reforms that made decision-making in the sector more reponsive to market forces.

But, as pointed out in a 2014 ABARES research paper, these have largely run their course.

"Instead, future opportunities for government to promote agricultural productivity growth may come from reducing regulatory burdens, improving the efficiency of the rural research, development and extension system, and building human capital through improving labour availability and skills."

Many of these issues find attention in the now released Agricultural Competitiveness White the full story

Northern delightenment

The White Paper on developing northern Australia has been released

18 June 2015 - In June last year, the Australian Government's Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia laid out a case to renew the effort towards developing northern Australia (covered in our previous story Northern Dreaming).

The release of the White Paper, which has the aspiring title Our North, Our Future, is the next step towards making good on a core election promise.

The diverse package of initiatives outlined in the policy paper are to trigger the accelerated economic expansion of a region that spans three million square kilometres north of the Tropic of Capricorn across Western Australia, the Northern Territory and full story

Great hit or big miss?

In June, Environment Minister Greg Hunt gave an example of how to make a pig look like a fashion model. "Certainty and growth for renewable energy" it said in the heading of a media statement in which he announced that the Australian Government's changes to the renewable energy target (RET) had passed the Senate.

Given that for more than a year the Australian renewables industry had to operate in an environment where nothing was certain and growth all but stalled, the outcome can indeed be interpreted as a period of calm after a war. The pig is not dead, but it surely is not looking Miss World full story

Innovative states

In June, the New South Wales' and South Australian budgets were brought down under very different economic full story

Earlier in the year, the need to save money restricted spending on innovation relevant initiatives in the Victorian, Tasmanian and Western Australian budgets full story

Cooperative review

May 2015 - The review of the Cooperative Research Centre Program by David Miles, which was commissioned by the Australian Government in 2014, has found the program is valuable and effective, although there is room for improvement.

The government has accepted all of its 18 recommendations, which means the program will continue despite the renewed funding cuts detailed in the 2015-16 budget (another $26 million over the next four years).

The government has already put in place a new CRC Advisory Group, as was recommended by Mr Miles, and it will strengthen the commercial focus of the full story


Innovation highways

14 May 2015 - The Australian Government won praise from the research community for its decision to keep the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) going for another two years, with $300 million allocated in the May budget. However, the funding is only meant to bridge the time until the government's review of research infrastructure is finalised, and a long term funding strategy is developed.

In 2015-16, NCRIS will provide $136.9 million for 27 facilities supporting a wide range of nationally significant research outcomes. These include new cancer testing methods, advances in quantum computing, a better understanding of the oceans, weather and climate, as well as improved crop productivity and more detailed environmental full story

Party on a budget

The $5.5 billion Growing Jobs and Small Business initiative may indeed be the most exciting bit in this year's 'dull' 2015-16 federal budget.

The pharmaceutical industries will also be happy about $1.3 billion towards the listing of new medicines and vaccines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Large savings affecting the scheme - up to $5 billion over four years were predicted by some in the media - did not eventuate.

There was a small boost for the environment, with an additional $174 million provided for the Government's 'Green Army' initiative. Previously announced were an additional $100 million for the Reef Trust, which was established last year to oversee investments into projects that benefit the Great Barrier Reef (see 'Our beef with the reef').

And the Government gave medical researchers also something to look forward to with the first distributions from the Medical Research Future Fund - $10 million in 2015-16. However, this would require the legislation to be passed, which at present seems highly unlikely. Still, the MRF could potentially deliver around $400 million over four years in addition to NHMRC research full story

Energetically productive

April 2015 - The release of the Australian Government's Energy White Paper drew mixed responses. Thus various political and academic quarters criticised a failure to properly address climate change, with some commentators pointing out that climate change was scarcely mentioned in the document.

Compared to the previous 2012 Energy White Paper, which had a stronger emphasis on renewable energy development, the focus has indeed shifted towards consumer needs. Thus, the overarching vision for the Australian energy sector is now to provide competitively priced and reliable energy to households, businesses and international full story

X-factor continued

In March, the Australian Government announced the third major installment of the 2014 NHMRC health and medical research grants. It included $98.3 million for 11 program grants, the agency's largest grants supporting long term broad, multi-disciplinary and collaborative research in some of the most complex areas of health and medical research.

The chance of winning NHMRC support has traditionally been low, but it is now getting even tougher for Australian health and medical researchers. The overall success rate for application based grants dropped from 22% in 2013 to 18% in 2014. Accordingly, the success rate for NHMRC Project Grants, which account for the bulk of the agency's funding, also significantly dropped, from 16.9% in 2013 down to 15.0% in full story


Our beef with the reef

In March, the Australian and Queensland Governments jointly released a 35 year plan for the long-term sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) World Heritage Area (see also our previous story "Reefing up").

As part of the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan (Reef Plan), the governments announced new funding commitments targeting the reef's health, including an additional $100 million from the Australian Government for the Reef Trust initiative.

Established in 2014 with $40 million, the Reef Trust will consolidate investments in projects that aim to improve the reef's health. Its funding priorities will be directed by an independent scientific panel chaired by Australia's chief scientist Professor Ian Chubb. full story

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Australian R&D Review

Dear Reader,

While the ARDR is still in the process of transitioning from its previous magazine-style format to a web-style publication, some content is now available. We hope it is of interest although we don't yet have the scope of our previous ARDR magazine.

Recent stories across all fields of the Australian R&D landscape are displayed on our homepage and in future we will also have pages that cover special areas of R&D.

The stories on our story pages can be read scrolling to the right (on mobile devices use your finger). All stories with short descriptions can also be found in the contentlist (right hand corner of our homepage).

If you have any feedback, input or questions, please send us an email at

If you are interested in our previous website and back issues of ARDR magazines, you can find them here.

Disclaimer: Opinions or views expressd in releases or articles published in the Australian R&D Review (ARDR) are personal views of contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the ARDR.

The ARDR expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information published in the ARDR and your use of such information.

2008 Elwinmedia
R&D news as it happens:

What's on?

imageOne day industry policy hackathon

The Australian Government will host a Policy Hackathon on innovation policy on 17 October 2015. The event will be in Sydney and bring together representatives from startups, VC funds, accelerators and other components of the innovation ecosystem, with policy experts from government departments. For more information click here

imageEarth Science Week 2015

Geoscience Australia will host Earth Science Week 2015 from 11-17 October, aligning with the international Earth Science Week theme of "Visualising Earth Systems". For more information click here

image$100 million Large-scale solar photovoltaics grant round open

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has opened its Large-scale solar photovoltaics competitive grant round as part of its Advancing Renewables Programme. Selected projects will be supported with up to $30 million. Complementary to this, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation announced a $250 million large-scale solar financing programme. For more information click here

imageWA Crop Protection Forum

The Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI), the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Curtin University Centre for Crop & Disease Management will co-host a Crop Protection Forum at UWA on 23 November 2015. For more information click here

2016 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture

With the 2016 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture now open, young agricultural innovators are now invited to apply for a share of $240,000 in grants. Applications close 9 October 2015. For more information click here

Nominations for the 2016 Clunies Ross Awards are now open (3 August) and will close Friday 30 October 2015. For more information click here.

2016 Rural Industries R&D Corporation Rural Women's Award

Applications are now open for the 2016 Rural Industries R&D Corporation Rural Women's Award. Closing date is 31 October. For more information click here

Advance Queensland Research Fellowships

Applications are open for the first program released through the new $180 million Advance Queensland initiative, the $28.5 million Queensland Research Fellowships. Closing date is 16 October 2015. For more information click here

Find below a list of stories published on this site.
  • Not so sweet youth
    (September) The first round of the ARC Special Research Initiative for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes is providing grants worth $9 million.
  • Innovator manna
    (September 2015) A new round of commercialisation grants has been announced.
  • Buy buy baby
    (September 2015) The Water Amendment Bill 2015 has passed the Senate, setting a cap on water purchases under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
  • Hubs for the future
    (September 2015) Two new ARC Research Hubs offically launched to support our mining and wheat industries.
  • Sunny diesel
    (September 2015) Australia's first commercial diesel displacement solar plant is now operating.
  • Rayful thinking
    (September 2015) Initiatives worth $350 million for large-scale solar projects aim to achieve cost parity between solar and wind energy projects by 2020.
  • Defensive high-tech
    (September 2015) The Capability and Demonstrator program supports seven new defence technology projects with $14.6 million.
  • It's collaboration, stupid
    (September) The Australian Government has released an IP toolkit for collaboration released
  • Double whammy
    (September 2015) The impact of storms fuelled by more severe El Nino and El Nina events will cause coastal erosion in the Pacific region, a new study suggests.
  • Losing sight of average... (September 2015) Australia's R&D intensity is in decline and the gap with the OECD average is again widening.
  • Playing without borders (September 2015) The NHMRC has awarded 11 grants worth $5 million supporting international research into globally important diseases.
  • Black launch
    (September 2015) The Whitehaven maules Creek Coal Mine has officially opened.
  • Captivating investments
    (August 2015) The $25 million Carbon Capture and Storage Research Development and Demonstration Fund is open for applications.
  • Together forever
    (August 2015) NICTA and CSIRO have merged to a new CSIRO entity called DATA61
  • Tangled in the web
    (August 2015) For many smaller Australian enterprises the internet is still too tough business.
  • Broadbandits rolling on
    (August 2015) NBN Co's 2016 Corporate Plan shows significant cost blow outs are on the card for the national mega project.
  • Spectral make-over
    (August 2015) The Australian Government will implement recommendations made by the Spectrum Review.
  • Netting in
    (August 2015) New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the internet is rapidly changing business models in the Information Media and Telecommunications industry.
  • Customers in sight
    (July 2015) CSIRO's has released a masterplan to drive innovation.
  • Blue dreaming
    (August 2015) Marine Nation 2015, a decadal marine science strategy for Australia, details how marine science could pave the way towards a 'blue economy'.
  • Gone phishing
    (August) DSTO scientists have developed an award winning new computer security device.
  • All connected in WA
    (July) The Western Australian hub of the Internet of Everything launched in Perth...
  • Linked up
    (July) ARC Linkage Projects grants worth $89 million have been awarded to 252 new research projects.
  • Food on the white board
    (July 2015) We review the Australian Government's Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper
  • Long-distance check
    (June 2015) CSIRO's trial of its Remote-I platform is demonstrating how electronic health could transform medical services delivery in remote areas of Australia.
  • Northern delightenment (June 2015) Australia is set for a renewed effort to develop the nation's north: The White Paper Our North, Our Future...
  • Data prospects
    (June 2015) Cisco's annual Australian Visual Networking Index (VNI) forcasts that Internet traffic will treble between 2014 to 2019.
  • Great hit or big miss?
    (June 2015) Changes to the Renewable Energy Target have passed the Senate.
  • Stately budgeting
    (June 2015) The New South Wales and South Australian Governments have brought down their budgets under two very different economic circumstances.
  • Renewable smoothing
    (June 2015) Energy storage using batteries promises future baseload power from wind and solar energy sources.
  • Mandated fueling
    (June 2015) Queensland has released a discussion paper on its plans to become the second Australian state with a biofuels mandate.
  • It's back (a bit)
    (4 June) Cuttlefish numbers at Point Lowly, South Australia, are increasing for the first time in six years.
  • Budgeted statesmanship
    (June 2015) Recent state budgets of Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia brought few noteworthy announcements targeting the Australian innovation system.
  • Cooperative review
    (May 2015) The reviev of the Cooperative Research Center program has found the program is valuable and effective, but there is room for improvement.
  • Heavenly peeks
    (June 2015) The $1 billion Giant Magellan Telescope project is on its way.
  • Manufactured dreaming
    (May 2015) The transformation of Adelaide's former Mitsubishi automotive plant at Tonsley into a precinct for education and high-value manufacturing enterprises is taking shape.
  • Busy money for changing habits
    (May 2015) The Australian Government is supporting 19 projects with $50 million under its Manufacturing Transition Programme.
  • Slippery prospects
    (May 2015) The first round of the 2014 Offshore Acreage Release resulted in eight new permits.
  • Innovation highways for the nation
    (May 2015) In 2015-16, the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy will provide $136.9 million for 27 facilities.
  • Trialling one-stop shop
    (May 2015) An online one-stop shop for clinical trials was launched.
  • Transformers at work
    (April 2015) The ARC's Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) will provide $18.7 million for four new research hubs.
  • Radiating approval
    (April 2015) The controversial Kintyre uranium mine in the east Pilbara received conditional environmental approval from the Australian Government.
  • Auctioned abatement
    (April 2015) The first Emissions Reduction Fund auction awarded 107 contracts worth $660.4 million for 47 million tonnes in CO2 abatement.
  • Better safe than sorry
    (March 2015) The Government has released a discussion paper on the Emissions Reduction Fund safeguard mechanism, while a new report shows that Australia's trend decline of emissions has reversed after the price on carbon was removed in 2014.
  • Measuring success
    (April 2015) The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences has proposed a new metrics system for measuring cross-sector research engagement.
  • New carrot from the boss
    (April 2015) The Prime Minister's Prizes for Science will now also recognise practical and commercials success.
  • Party on a budget
    (May 2015) The 2015 federal budget keeps the promise of being dull also for the research and innovation sector.
  • Energetically productive
    (April 2015) The Australian Government has released its Energy White Paper.
  • Vapour power
    (April 2015) The first hydrogen fuel cell powered passenger vehicle has arrived in Australia.
  • Thrilling drilling in SA
    (April 2015) The latest round of the South Australian PACE Discovery Drilling scheme will co-fund 27 resource exploration projects.
  • X-factor continued
    (March 2015) The Australian Government announced the third major installment of the 2014 NHMRC health and medical research grants.
  • Targeted revolution
    (March 2015) A new NHMRC Targeted Call for Research (TCR) initiative will provide up to $25 million across five years for a project that explores genomics medicine for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • One for everything
    (March 2015) Global IT firm CISCO has announced it will invest US$15 million over five years in a Cisco Internet of Everything (IoE) Innovation Centre in Australia.
  • Our beef with the reef
    (March 2015) The Australian and Queensland Governments jointly released a 35 year plan for the long-term sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) World Heritage Area.
  • Reductionists at auction
    (February 2015) - Businesses will be able to submit their bids for emissions reductions into the first competitive Emissions Reduction Fund auction on 15 April 2015.
  • A climate of change
    (December 2014) A snapshot of the changing face of Australia's industry, the inaugural Australian Industry Report 2014 highlights the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Australia's economy.
  • Offshore hopes
    (December 2014) Round two of the Australian Government's 2013 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release delivered seven permits, which could potentially translate into investment of more than $600 million over the next six years.
  • No stop for the shop
    (December 2014) The Australian Government is progressing with its plan to create a single environmental approval process for projects that may impact on nationally protected matters.
  • It's a broadbandit's world
    (December 2014) The Australian Government released a policy paper detailing a new regulatory environment for NBN Co.
  • Never ending appetite
    (December 2014) The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) reports that growth in the number of Australians having a home internet connection has stabilised at 14.7 million (81%) as of June 2014.
  • Foody strength
    (December 2014) The National Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Precinct (NAESP) at CSIRO s redeveloped $200 million Black Mountain site in Canberra was launched in December.
  • Hunger games (December 2014) Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce released the Agriculture Competitiveness Green Paper.
  • Indian appetite (December 2014) According to a recent report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), India's foot consumption is set to rise by 136% between 2009 and 2050, driven by population and personal income growth across the continent.
  • Spacious clean-up (December 2014) With another review of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) programme underway, this time led by business leader David Miles, a new CRC is taken up work on lowering the risk for satellites to be hit by space debris.
  • Ice telling the story (September 2014) Australia's recent prolonged drought was far from being a historic anomaly for eastern Australia during the past thousand years.
  • Reefing up (September 2014) The Australian and Queensland Governments released a discussion paper on a 35 year plan for the long-term sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Bright cruises (December-March 2014/15) Australia's new marine research vessel, the RV investigator is now officially in service...
  • Nurtured success (July 2014) The $482.2 million over five years Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Programme announced in the 2014 federal budget is taking shape, with a phased delivery of services having commenced in July 2014.
  • Renewed worries (July 2014) The recent Warburton Review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) confirmed that the political wind coming from Canberra has changed direction.
  • Healthy investments (July 2014) The NHMRC has awarded research grants and fellowships worth a total of $71.2 million, including 74 new NHMRC Research Fellowships totalling $54.6 million for Australia's top performing medical researchers.
  • Ageing demands (July 2014) Among the various measures targeting special areas of medical research, the Australian Government's 2014-2015 federal budget provides an additional $200 million for dementia research.
  • Celebrated translation (July 2014) The NHMRC took another step towards addressing Australia's poor health research translation with the launch of the Advanced Health Research and Translational Centre program.
  • Being special (July 2014) The Australian Government has formally approved a $35 million investment into Type 1 juvenile diabetes research, an initiative first announced in the 2014-2015 federal budget. .
  • Space to the future (July/August 2014) The Australian National University has officially opened the doors to its new space engineering infrastrucure, the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC).
  • Champions league 2014 (July/August 2014) The ARC has awarded 16 new Australian Laureate Fellowships together worth $42 million, and 150 new Future Fellowships together worth $115 million.
  • Big picture dollars (July 2014) The Australian Government has released operational details for its new Exploration Development Incentive (EDI), which is to be effective from July 2014.
  • Big picture dollars (July 2014) The Australian Academy of Science will develop strategic decadal plans for Australia's chemistry, agricultural science, and earth sciences...
  • Uni-fying affairs (July 2014) Recent stories from our universities.
  • Northern dreaming (June 2014) The Australian Government's Green Paper On Developing Northern Australia envisions significant opportunities for an economically already thriving region of Australia, with the resources industry at the core of its economic expansion.

  • Born to be wide (June 2014) IP Australia's second update on the state of our intellectual property system reports that the number of Australian patent applications continues to grow strongly.
  • Born to be wide (June 2014) Somewhat overshadowed by the suprise decision of Germany to pull out of the Square Kilometre Array Project (see insert), the CSIRO reported promising test results from its Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope.
  • Industrious hubs (June 2014) Seven new Research Hubs will be created with almost $24 million provided through the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Program.
  • Collaborative splurge (June 2014) A new round of grants under the ARC Linkage projects scheme will provide a total of $88.2 million for 251 collaborative research projects.
  • Supercritical power (June 2014) A collaborative research project between the CSIRO and solar energy firm Abengoa Solar has reported the highest level of 'supercritical steam' ever produced using solar energy.
  • Digitised sanity (June 2014) The establishment of a Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record is a complex but worthwhile project, according to a new review commissioned by the Australian Government.

  • To ehealth or not to ehealth (June 2014) In this brief review we report on the slow but steady progress towards eHealth in Australia.
  • Explorative responses (June 2014) The Australian Government has responded to the Inquiry Report into Mineral and Energy Resource Exploration by the Productivity Commission.
  • ...for offshore manna (June 2014) Nine awarded new offshore petroleum exploration permits could attract more than $372 million in investments.
  • Stay away from bleeding hearts. (June 2014) Cyber security is becoming a pressing issue for Australian online users, as highlighted in a new report from the CSIRO on cyber security trends and implications.
  • A peak in sight. (May 2014) A new report from the CSIRO warns that while demand fro mobile internet services could almost triple by 2020, the development may head towards a 'spectrum crunch'.
  • Emerging non-fixation issues. (May 2014) NBN Co has released its redacted review of the progress made in the non-fixed line footprint.
  • From clever back to lucky. (May 2014) The Australian Government has handed down its first budget.
  • From clever back to lucky. (May 2014) The Australian Government has handed down its first budget.
  • Smoke screen or genuine reduction (April 2014) The Australian Government has released the Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper.
  • Blowing with the wind (April 2014) A brief on the state of wind energy in Australia, including the $1.5 billion, 600 megawatt CERES wind project.
  • Productively connected on the run (April 2014) New research released by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) revealed a link between Australia's mobile broadband connectedness and its productivity and overall economic growth
  • Improving the rollout or putting the cart before the horse? (April 2014) The Australian Government has issued an updated Statement of Expectations to NBN Co, the company administering the rollout of the National Broadband Network
  • Earthly delights (March 2014) Latest reports present a mixed outlook for the Australian mining sector, including the Resources and Energy Quarterly - March Quarter 2014 report from the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics and recent statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We also cover a discussion paper on the proposed Exploration Development Incentive and the 2014 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release.
  • State-us Quo of R&D (February/March 2014) Here we cover stories from and about the states over the period.
  • Scientific wonders (February/March 2014) Here we review recent outstanding science stories from or with participation of Australian researchers.
  • Big thinking for a well-fed future (6 February 2014) The Australian Government has released an Issues Paper in preparation of its Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
  • Counterproductive helpers (February 2014) A new ABARES report has traced the impacts of past agricultural policies in Australia.
  • Healthy winners (18 February 2014) New NHMRC funding totalling $133 million will support projects across five NHMRC schemes.
  • Renewed doubts (17 February 2014) The Australian Government has released the Terms of Reference for a review of the Renewable Energy Target.
  • Big not welcome - Proposed changes to the R&D Tax Incentive will exclude larger firms (turnover $20 billion or more) from receiving assistance - possibly the only example for an exclusion purely based on size in the world.
  • Mighty dancers (21 February 2014) The Australian Government will provide $186 million for establishing three new and extending four existing Cooperative Research Centres.
  • How to play together (January 2014) ACOLA has released a final report on a study investigating the benefits and challenges of inderdisciplinary research.
  • Cheap read (January 2014) The Garvan Institute is one of the first owning a sequencer that can perform a genome sequencing study at potentially less than $1000.
  • Cloudy days (January/February 2014) Two recent Australian studies have brought a new understanding how cloud formation may impact on climate change and why global mean temperatures have not significantly risen since 2001.
  • Hot options (February 2014) An ARENA funded Breaking the solar gridlock study has assessed the potential of concentrating solar thermal power at Australia's electricity grid constrained locations.
  • Emitted future (December 2013) The story covers the Australian Government's Green Paper on its Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • Profitable uni-verse (December 2013) The 2012 Financial report of higher education providers reveals a sector in good health (Story includes an infographic on university revenue sources).
  • Excellence expected (24 December 2013) The Government has approved $285 million, which from 2014 will support 12 ARC Centres of Exellence.
  • Three off the hook (December 2013) The Government's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) includes a redirection of ARC funds to boost some areas of medical research, but not everyone is happy.
  • Broad bandits seeking new direction The story covers the NBN Co Strategic Review, the Government's Summary Report of a Broadband Availability and Quality Survey, and a report from the CSIRO on the impact and challenges related to broadband.
  • Sinking feelings A round up of recent Australian research that highlights the ecological importance and potential financial value of coastal carbon sinks.
  • One for all The Government plans to streamline the complex environmental approval process for offshore petroleum projects in Australian seas.
  • Hot air action (16 October 2013) The Australian Government has released the Terms of Reference for the development of an Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • Oh yes, Minister ARDR analysis of the Governments revision of climate change policies.
  • Stemming the challenge In this dossier we trace the progression of new stem cell therapies into clinical practice, in Australia and abroad.
  • Dollars for the scholars (October/November 2013) the NHMRC and the ARC have awarded research grants and fellowships worth a total of over $1 billion dollar.
  • Better safe than sorry
    Australia's patenting processes are in the spotlight with the release of IP Australia's first annual report on the state of the IP system, and the release of an Options Paper in preparation of a review of the innovation patent system.
  • Fly like a BERD Recent data from the ABS on business spending on R&D, and how innovation impacts on business performance.
  • Strategic desert (September 2013) For the first time since 1931 an Australian Government does not have a Minister dedicated to science and research.
  • Dear pie sought in the sky The Western Australian Government will provide $26 million in new funding for the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
  • Marinating leader (17 August 2013) Associate Professor Tim Ward will lead the 4-year South Australian research program on the Great Australian Bight.
  • Light play (July 2013) The Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) has opened its new $92 million headquarters at the University of Adelaide.
  • One direction: Asia
    (8 July 2013) The National Centre for Asia Capabilities has opened.
  • Hot largesse in the making (31 July 2013) ARENA has reached a financial close with AGL for the construction of a $450 million solar power station, the largest in the southern hemisphere.
  • Traceable fortunes (6 August 2013) A new CSIRO development could considerably boost the rewards of gold miners.
  • SeaSim
    Cruising onshore (01 August 2013) The $37 million National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) has officially opened.
  • Horizons to the future (30 July 2013) Monash has launched its $175 million New Horizons Centre strengthening Australia's manufacturing capabilities.
  • It's one world (25 July 2013)
    The CSIRO has launched its new Biosecurity Flagship, which will take a One Health approach to biosecurity threats.
  • What do we really want? (30 August 2013) - The final report on a pilot of the Australia's Progress in the 21st Century project has been released
  • Fissionary outlook (July 2013) - Delegates at a recent ATSE conference on nuclear energy believe there should be a renewed debate about the use of nuclear power for electricity generation in Australia.
  • XY still the norm (09 July 2013) Only 2 women are among the 17 recipients of Australian Laureate Fellowships in 2013.
  • Born to be wild (June 2013) Summary of the latest developments related to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement.
  • Patent power to the Crown (26-06-2013) Covers the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2013 currently before the Senate.
  • Healthy money going south (15-06-2013) The South Australian Health & Biomedical Research Priority receives $100 million from the Australian Government.
  • Getting the priorities right(21-06-2013) New Strategic Research Priorities are to guide public research investment.
  • Hydrocarbonic investment (17-06-2013) Covers the Government's recent Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release and other stories related to Petroleum exploration.
  • Manufactured board (14-06-2013) - The board of the new Manufacturing Precinct, one of ten Industry Innovation Precincts, has been announced.
  • Sharing the gap (07-06-2013) - ARENA's $60 million SHARE (Supporting High-value Australian Renewable Energy) initiative will accept industry applications from 1 July.
  • Peak-less into the future (February 2013) - New funding for 2 major biofuels projects.
  • Under one umbrella The CSIRO and the DSTO have joined forces.
  • It's budget time (May-August 2013) - Summary of federal and state budgets (Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia).
  • Economic abyss in sight (May-June 2013) - Reviews the state of Australia's resources and energy industries based on recent analysis by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE), the Resources and Energy Major Projects 2013 report and the Energy in Australia 2013 report.
  • Charged changes (30-05-2013) - The Future Grid Cluster was launched in Sydney.
  • Heads firmly in the Cloud (29-05-2013) - A review of the Government's National Cloud Strategy.
  • Can we put it on their table (25-05-2013)- Reviews Australia's first National Food Plan
  • Regional boost (10-05-2013) - Charles Sturt University receives $5.9 million Government funding for a new Food, Soil and Water Research Centre.
  • Fracklustre advances - The Government discussion paper on new regulations that aim to improve the monitoring of greenhouse gases during the exploration and production of coal seam gas.
  • Partners in Health (April 2013) - A collection of stories around the NHMRC Partnership in Health program
  • Infectious collaborations (10-04-2013) - The Government has announced it has entered a new health research partnership with Singapore.
  • Healthy system with gaps in translation - The Government has released its Strategic Review of Health and Medidical Research Funding (McKeon Review).
  • Prolific targets (10-02-2013) - Cancer Australia announced 38 grants worth $10.6 million for cancer research.
  • Facing defensive prospects(12-04-2013) - the DSTO has released a 5 year strategic plan, and the University of Tasmania launched the Centre for Food Innovation in a partnership with the DSTO and CSIRO.
  • Clean competition (02-04-2013) - The third round of the Australian Clean Technologies Competition was launched in early April
  • Spacious ambition (09-04-2013) - Australia's first space policy was launched
  • Sinking feelings (20-02-2013) - Results published from Australian Terrestrial Carbon Budget project reveal the Australian landscape as an important carbon sink, and that we export more fossil fuel emissions than produce within the country
  • Taking a Bight (09-04-2013) - The Great Australian Bight will be the target of a $20 million science program.
  • Disastrous foresight(14-03-2013) - The Australia Disaster Management Platform (ADMP) is developing an improved IT platform for disater management.
  • Patently friends (March/April 2013) - a broad roundup on recent developments around IP
  • Diverse knowledge gap (09-04-2013)- The Centre for Biodiversity Analysis was launched in Canberra
  • Productive challenges (25-03-2013) - A new discussion paper released by BREE on the challenges of measuring productivity in the mining sector.
  • High-tech down under (11-03-2013) - Queensland company Ferra Engineering has won a $60 million contract with Boeing for the manufacture of Joint Direct Attack Munitions Systems.
  • Radiating gold (March/April 2013) - Western Australia got its first uranium mine approved, while Queensland is set to recommence its uranium industry.
  • Bit by bit body and mind repair (March 2013) - The Regional Cystic Fibrosis e-Health & Telemonitoring Program was launched in Victoria.
  • Hitting the ground (March 2013) - New insights about the Great Artesian Basin revealed throughthe Great Artesian Basin Water Resource Assessment and the Mound Springs project.
  • Money makes the world go round (March 2013) - New monies for the Innovation Investment Fund.
  • Arresting protection (22-02=2013) - CSIRO work on a new class of flu vaccines is published in Science.
  • How to make a nickel (13-03-2013) - A new CSIRO pilot plant to test technology for the conversion of low grade nickel laterites to high grade resource.
  • Cooperative commitment (16-02-2013) - $70 million funding for Cooperative Research Centres announced.
  • When the west waves move (16-02-2013) - Carnegie Energy Wave Limited has accepted Government funding for a project that will power desalination plants with wave energy.
  • The show is on (28-02-2013) - The $230 million Science and Technology Centre launched at the Queensland University of Technology's Gardens Point Precinct.
  • Feeding the world (06-03-2013) - The University of Sydney has launched the Centre for Carbon, Water and Food at Camden.
  • Marine prospects - The Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group (OPSAG) has released a new report A Marine Nation 2025: Marine Science to support Australia's Blue Economy.
  • Of coal and gas... Februar/March 2013 - The Australian Environment Minister approved AGL's coal seam methane gas (CSG) project at Gloucester and coal mine projects at Maules Creek and at Boggabri (see below). It also seeks to amend current legislation to extend federal powers in assessing the potential impact of CSG projects on groundwater.
  • Fast future (Feb to April) - New data on Internet use by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows the ever increasing appetite for downloads while a new report by the CSIRO predicts a future in broadband connected homes, the ACMA shows the rapid uptake of smartphones and tablets and Adelaide plans to become a free wireless city...

Blue dreaming

12 August - Two years ago the Australian Government's Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group led by Professor John Gunn published a position paper Marine Nation 2025: Marine Science to Support Australia's Blue Economy (
covered in our previous story Marine Prospects

Its major recommendation was to develop a ten year plan for improving our marine science capabilities and to develop the 'blue economy' potential of our marine estate.

A National Marine Science Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Gunn, was formed and with input from 500 scientists and stakeholders the group of experts developed the now released marine science strategy for the period 2015-2025.

Blue economy:
In the marine context the concept describes a framework of sustainable development based on a balanced management of ocean assets for economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits.
According to a United Nations concept paper, it breaks with the mould of the 'business as usual' brown development model of free resource extraction and waste dumping, through which costs are externalised from economic calculations.

A call for increased investments in national research infrastructure and currently under-resourced high-priority science programs underpin the plan.

But the report also highlights that there is a need for more collaboration between scientists, industry , government and the public, which entails an effort to better communicate the importance of marine science to the broader community.

With 13.6 million square kilometres spanning across three oceans we do have the third largest marine estate in the world, but while this brings great opportunities, the committee highlights that the sector is also facing major challenges.

Thus, the plan envisions that Australia's marine science will drive the development of new technologies and product innovations, while it will also provide the evidence base necessary to:

  • maintain marine sovereignty and security;
  • achieve energy security;
  • ensure food security;
  • conserve our biodiversity and ecosystem health;
  • create sustainable urban coastal development;
  • understand and adapt to climate variability and change; and
  • develop equitable and balanced resource allocation.

Reaping the economic benefits from our marine assets while addressing these seven core challenges will be a balancing act, exemplified by the proposed development of Australia's tropical north: here the exploit of major resource potential needs to be weight against the protection of major existing cultural and environmental assets.

To achieve this, the committee put forward the concept of a 'blue economy'. However, the concept is complex (see insert) and its development will require that we narrow the still large existing knowledge gaps, with more than 75% of our marine estate yet to be explored.

Marine science for a blue economy; click image to enlarge

Similar difficulties arise in defining what constitutes our 'marine industry' and, consequently, in measuring its worth.

For example, around the world multinationals are lining up to exploit the rich genetic resource they contain (see also our 2011 dossier 'Ocean Views'). Internationally, such bio-prospecting of marine species is a major area of growth, but it is just one of a number of emerging industries, which also include seabed mining and the harvesting of wave and tidal power (for example the Perth Wave Energy Project, the first Australian project feeding power into the grid).

The 2014 AIMS Index of Marine Industry estimates that the industry's contribution to the economy was around $47 billion in 2011-12. But given the above mentioned limitations, the report makes the point that this estimate may be significantly below the industry's true value. This also as it largely ignores the value of ecosystems services, which the Centre for Policy Development has estimated to be worth in the order of around $25 billion per year.

Australia's marine estate; click image to enlarge

That aside, the 2013 OPSAG report projected further strong growth of Australia's marine economy - possibly three times faster than Australia's gross domestic product over the next decade - and that its value will more than double to around $100 billion per year by 2025

The strategy paper's list of identified growth areas includes:

  • the expansion of ocean renewable energy resources (wind, wave, tide);
  • growth in the field of marine biotechnology including for the biofuels, bioremediation and bioproducts;
  • the discovery and development of new offshore geological basins for oil and gas, and for CO2 storage;
  • increases in the market value of fisheries through sustainable harvesting practices;
  • a doubling of aquaculture with the development of new sectors;
  • the sustainable development of northern Australia; and
  • a sustainbable growth of the marine tourism industry.

The experts argue that to this end investments in marine science need to significantly increase from its current $450 million per year, which represents less than 1% of the industry's current estimated value.

However, these increased investments in marine R&D need to come from a broad base of sources, including government, industry and the community, and should support priority initiatives including:

  • a National Blue Economy Innovation Fund;
  • national marine research infrastructure;
  • a National Integrated Marine Experimental Facility;
  • a National Ocean Modelling Program; and
  • a Marine Science Capability Development Fund.

The committee calls for an explicit shift in focus away from 'business as usual' marine science towards a system supporting a 'blue economy' development (see insert listing the eight recommendations).

They also propose the establishment of a National Marine Baselines and Long-term Monitoring Program, which is to develop a comprehensive assessment of Australia's marine estate.

Further recommended is a dedicated and coordinated marine science program and the expansion of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), which is supporting critical climate change and coastal systems research.

Finally, the experts want the government to fund the full use of the national research vessel RV Investigator for 300 days a year instead of just 180 days at present.

Australia's national research vessel, RV Investigator.
The committee's eight recommendations include:
  • Create an explicit focus on a sustainable blue economy throughout the marine science system.
  • Establish and support a National Marine Baselines and Long-term Monitoring Program to develop a comprehensive assessment of our estate, and to help manage Commonwealth and State Marine Reserve networks.

  • Facilitate coordinated national studies on marine ecosystem processes and resilience to enable understanding of the impacts of development (urban, industrial and agricultural) and climate change on our marine estate.

  • Create a National Oceanographic Modelling System to supply defence, industry and government with accurate, detailed knowledge and predictions of ocean state.

  • Develop a dedicated and coordinated science program to support decision-making by policymakers and marine industry.

  • Sustain and expand the Integrated Marine Observing System to support critical climate change and coastal systems research, including coverage of key estuarine systems.

  • Develop marine science research training that is more quantitative, cross-disciplinary and congruent with industry and government needs.

  • Fund national research vessels for full use.
More information:; a PDF of the strategy can be obtained here
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