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Australian R&D Review

The Australian R&D Review - ARDR - is a national, independent source of intelligence and information on current developments in Australia's Science and Technology sector.

At present, all issue can be accessed for free. Just scroll below for our recent editions or visit our archive.

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ARDR Apr-Aug 2012 issue free to download (~5 mb) HERE.

This edition of the ARDR includes a review of Australia's creative industries, a term that has evolved over the past decade from the arts and cultural industries to conceptualise creative processes as a driver of innovation, and their impact on the broader economy.

The idea that creativity is integral to innovation is not new - art and culture have always been drivers of innovation, including technological change. Nevertheless, creative activities, which range from design to software development, remain often undervalued in the broader innovation system, with the traditional components of science, research and technology usually taking precedence.

But there is a growing realisation among policymakers that progress in this arena will be essential if Australia is to successfully transform into a knowledge-based economy and create brands with world recognition. Hence, the past few years has seen a series of initiatives and policy strategies that specifically target Australia's creative potential.

ARDR Jan-March 2012 issue free to download (~5 mb) HERE. For a higher resolution option (~20 mb) click 'HERE'.

Of the 57 pages full with stories that describe recent events in the Australian Innovation System, we have dedicated our main story to the emergence of next-generation biofuels, both in Australia and internationally.

ARDR Sep-Dec 2011 issue free to download (~5 mb) HERE.

September-December 2011 edition:

In this issue our special focus is on our marine resources, including the Government's marine bioregional plans and the proposed network of marine protected areas (MPAs) around Australia. In addition, we bring together the latest reports and research that deal with our oceans. Other highlights in this edition include a review of the state of our geothermal industry, and broad summary of latest Australian genomic research.
June-August issue free to view HERE.
In an edition cram-packed with information, our focus is this time on the Australian innovation system. In the year of delivery for the Government, some major initiatives have been finalised or are close to it. This includes a new Tax Incentive scheme replacing Labor's revered Tax Concession after more than 25 years, a proposed major overhaul of the the nation's outdated patent system, and most importantly, the Government's controversial Clean Energy Future plan. The ARDR pulls the strings together....

Apr-May 2011 issue free to view HERE.

Our lead story All boom, no gloom deals with all the latest developments related to Australia's mining boom. In addition, we take a closer look at the opening of the Woomera Prohibited Area for mining and, related to this development, the state of the mining sector in South Australia.

Marine wealth: as rich get richer While Australia is blessed with the highest mineral wealth per capita in the world, we also have a considerable stake in the wealth of the oceans.Professor Carlos Duarte, who is the new director of the University of Western Australia's Ocean Institute, has published a series of papers over recent months on the considerable pace in which the genetic resource in the seas is explored and developed. However, much of that occurs in an environment reminiscent of the early pioneers in the 'Wild West', as 65% of the oceans are outside of national jurisdictions and are currently explored on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead of sharing the wealth, few countries with the neccessary means claim early stakes, reflected in the ownership of patents following the Pareto principle of the 'rich getting richer'.

Budget 2011 - and little left in the kitty - It has been budget time again around Australia, on state and federal level. The ARDR summarises how the R&D community faired.

Feb-March 2011 issue free to view HERE.

Patents in the spotlight - Recent months have brought a renewed focus on Australia's intellectual property system, with a broader review by IP Australia* of current legislation, the Patents Act 1990, and a report by the Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) on what should be patentable in Australia. The ARDR lead reviews the most relevant aspects of these reports in light of the current debate on whether human genes should be patentable.

Trialling times for Australia - Clinical trials are big business in Australia, contributing around $1 billion each year to the economy. Clinical trials also provide significant broader benefits for the society, notably for patients who can get early access to new and sometimes life saving treatments. However, a recent report by the Clincial Trials Action Group highlights how the Australian clinical trial system is unnecessary complicated, stifling the industry at a time of rapidly emerging competition in our region. The ARDR reviews the report and its recommendations to secure the future of the sector.

Phosphorus: A crisis we do not have to have - Professor Stuart White and Dr Dana Cordell, both from the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney, write about a potentially peaking resource that could threaten our food security: phosphorus. It is widely unrecognised, but our Agriculture is depending on a resource for which there are few suppliers in the world, with over 85% of remaining stocks controlled by Marocco. The article by White and Cordell outlines strategies for a 'soft landing'.

ERA: an ailing emperor's new clothes - On 31 January, the Australian Government announced the outcome of the first full evaluation the ARC conducted under the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative. While there has been some commentary about the now more transparent achievements of the sector, Dr Fiona Wood, a former academic and now international consultant on research funding and evaluation, reviews the massive undertaking in light of changes in the direction of research policies overseas.

Farming in the carbon mitigation age - This climate change special focusses on the Government's recent climate change policy proposals, including the Carbon Farming Initiative.

image source: adapted from Professor Richard Eckart, University of Melbourne

Licensing key to future Australian innovation - In his guest column, Dr Mark Horsburgh, President-elect of the Licensing Executives Society of Australia and New Zealand (LESANZ, outlines his vision of Australia becoming a knowledge based society producing intellectual property for smart technology, which licensed to other countries then could produce revenue stream without the need for a large infrastructure.

Dec-Jan 2010 issue free to view HERE.

Stem cell review - Three years after Australian legislation regulating research on human embryos was amended, a new review will examine how it operates in a technology environment that is rapidly advancing. The ARDR provides the context.

'Wooden gold'-to oil wheels of commerce - Dr Liz Barbour, from the University of Western Australia, tells a story of a re-emerging industry in Western Australia that is intricately linked with the history of that state. It is also a story of our failure to preserve most valuable assets, and yet also a story of how we can seize emerging opportunities through our advanced research base and geographic advantage.

CryoSat-2: Monitoring the climate canary - Dr Christopher Watson from the University of Tasmania and Dr Jan Lieser, from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, describe how the CryoSat-2 mission, assisted by Australian scientists, will help answer one of the most pressing questions: How is the Earth's cryosphere changing?

Hot air, hand waving and insect outbreaks - While locust plaques and outbreaks of other insect species make headlines in the news, Dr Martin Steinbauer from La Trobe University says there is actually very limited understanding in Australia of economically important insect species. Australia lacks appreciation for the importance of long-term insect monitoring projects which could provide an adquate knowledge base to understand future risks in the face of climate change. Dr Steinbauer also critices that the public is at times fed with wrong or incorrect information by Government officials that lack the necessary expertise.

A price tag for a connected nation - The ARDR summarises the recent developments with the National Broadband Network (NBN, including NBN Co's corporate plan and the Government's final reponse to the $25 million NBN implementation plan.

November 2010 issue free to download HERE.

Push into space - A Decadal Plan for Australian Space Science, launched at the end of September by the Australian Academy of Science, sets the scene for a renewed effort to build Australia's presence in space. The ARDR lead reviews the plan and latest related developments

A plan for troubled water Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan has been the controversial topic since its release in early October. In addition to the report there were a number of additional reports and initiatives related to the issue of how to restore environmental water in the Basin to sustainable levels. This ARDR special pulls all the strings together.
Biotech: safe bet for public investments - A Lateral Economics report commissioned by Research Australia reinforces the view that public support of medical and health research is a good investment for the nation. The ARDR summarises the key points of the report. In addition, Rebecca James, CEO of Research Australia outlines in A rationale for targeted intervention her views on the Lateral Economics report.

Patent or not to patent - the debate over human gene patents has been a major issue in November, as politicians across the political spectrum vowed to ban such patents, and a Senate inquiry into gene patents tabled its report. In addition, the US Government has taken a U turn from its previously held position of allowing such patents, with likely ramifications for the Australian IP procedures. Here ARDR reviews the latest developments.

If it's rolling the wrong way, stop the ball! In November, the introduction of new Tax Credit legislation was again deferred in the face of a likely defeat in the Senate. While a major set-back for the Government, R&D Tax Concession expert Kris Gale, managing director of Michael Johnson Associates, writes why the deferral is a good idea.

Innovation support a drop in the ocean In his Guest Column, president-elect of the Licensing Executives Society of Australia and New Zealand (LESANZ) Dr Mark Horsburgh reviews Commercialisation Australia, which he says does not yet provide the support the Australian innovation sector needs.

Looking into Tasmania's climate future The Climate Futures for Tasmania project has released its first report. It is an Australian first, fine scale modeling Tasmania's climate through to the end of this century. Dr Tony Press, CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, reviews the report.

Highlights in the October edition:

Innovation snapshot - The current state of Australia's innovation effort is under the microscope in the ARDR lead, which includes recent data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Government and Business expenditure on R&D, and relevant characteristics of the Australian business landscape.

It's time to keep the profits home... - An Australian pharmaceuticals industry with companies as big as Novartis and Roche need not be a pipedream, says Leon Serry, Founder and former Managing Director of Australias first licensed biotech company Circadian Technologies. The Swiss could do it with a population of just eight million. We can do it too, says Serry, who proposes a new Tax regime that lowers the barrier for Australian investors to financing critical phase 3 human clinical trials. To read the commentary by Leon Serry click here
Exploring Australia's cover - The outcomes of a Think Tank at the Australian Academy of Sciences on future resource explorations in Australia are the focus of a piece by Dr Rob Hough, Stream leader CSIRO Minerals Down Under National Research Flagship. Australia is at a crossroad with its exploration efforts as major resource deposits are becoming harder to find. Hough explains how a new wave of innovations could reveal world class deposits that are hidden beneath the extensive areas of Australia's cover. To read the commentary by Rob Hough click here

Senate: keep the innovation ball rolling! - In a Guest Column to the ARDR, Mark Horsburgh, President-elect of the Licensing Executives Society of Australia and New Zealand (LESANZ), urges to pass the R&D Tax Credit legislation to get the innovation ball rolling again in Australia's cash starved biotech companies. He warns that if the industry's innovation efforts continue to stall, skilled Australians will leave these shores to then be sorely missed when the legislation has passed and innovation investment is picking up again. To read the commentary by Mark Horsburgh click here

May/June edition:

Bringing Oz up to speed... - The The National Broadband Network Implementation study has made waves in the media but how many really know what it says? The ARDR lead provides a detailed synopsis and what experts had to say to it.
Also in the edition: "Budget specs" providing State and Federal budget news relevant to R&D

Research in the digital age - University of Glasgow'Professor Richard Sinnott, who will take up a position as eResearch director at the University of Melbourne in July, outlines how high-end computing is transforming the research landscape with the growth of digital data hindering progress in most research areas more...
Bodiversity - everyone needs it - It is the Year of Biodiversity, yet there is little to celebrate as we are facing what many researchers call the 6th Extinction Event. Professor Iain Gordon reflects on the possible way forward more...

Highlights in April:

And what about nuclear? The nuclear power option appears not to rank prominently in people’s minds, despite Australia being a major exporter of Uranium and the potential of nuclear power to reduce the carbon footprint of our electricity generating industry. A major new report by the National Academies Forum, Understanding the formation of attitudes to nuclear power in Australia , also finds that in Australia there is generally little understanding of how attitudes toward nuclear energy are formed, and this limits an informed debate on national energy policy. The report  is the focus of the ARDR lead story in April.

The Myriad case: Genes are no invention! Following on from his review of the case of the University of Western Australia vs Dr Gray/Sirtex in the ARDR March issue, Professor Luigi Palombi (ANU) comments here on the recent case involving US company Myriad; the company lost a significant US law suit over its intellectual property rights related to the BRCA breast cancer genes. Human gene patent rights are currently also under review in Australia and Professor Palombi has been a prominent advocate for change to current human gene patent legislation... more
>Services and gene patenting: GTG. The Myriad case could also have direct ramifications for the Australian biotech industry. Genetic Technologies (GTG) has licensed IP rights for diagnostic tests based on the BRCA genes for the Australian market, and previously the company was criticised for attempting to reinforce its IP rights in Australia. GTG, chief executive officer Paul MacLeman, comments in the ARDR that scrapping human gene patents would actually benefit the company by levelling the playing field for all. However, taking a broader perspective, he says that in the longer term patent protection of human gene discoveries benefits a greater good... more

- Cutler review sidestepped: R&D Tax Credit. Kris Gale, managing director of Michael Johnson Associates is one of Australia's leading experts on the R&D Concession scheme, which was introduced in 1985 by the late John Button. Mr Gale says the proposed R&D Tax Credit, which is to become effective in July, is a huge shift from the Button scheme, which had bipartisan support for the past 25 years ....more
- Are innovation and creative industries policy converging? Australia's creative industries and its technology based innovation sector traditionally walk on opposite sides of the street. Yet, Professor Terry Flew and Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham from the Queensland University of Technology, believe this is about to change, as the innovative service industry sector is growing in Australia and scientists increasingly seek cross-disciplinary approaches with the humanities, arts and social sciences. However, Flew and Cunningham highlight significant roadblocks in the development of creative industries, notably a lack of support by the R&D Tax concession scheme...more

- Nuclear research: Neglect we can't afford Nuclear power may never eventuate in Australia, but there are plenty of reasons why nuclear research should not be neglected. Internationally, nuclear energy innovation is steaming ahead with promising new developments such as the Bill Gates backed thermal wave reactor technology. As this unfolds, Australia, despite being a major exporter of Uranium, has all but abandoned its nuclear research and education base. Dr John Price, principal of Integrity Partners and adjunct professor at Monash University, reviews current developments and identifies some areas where Australia should target a renewed research effort... more

- The leadstory, Enabling Technology’, reports on the Government’s recently released National Enabling Technology Strategy, a new regulatory framework for the development of bio- and nano-technologies in Australia, and the Australian Academy of Science’s report Nanotechnology in Australia, a snapshot of the current state of the Australian nanotechnology  sector.

- In ‘Bad cases make bad law: UWA vs Gray’ Dr Luigi Palombi from ANU’s Centre for Governance of Knowledge and Development, provides a critical analyses of the recent final ruling by the High Court against the University of Western Australia in its case over intellectual propertyagainst former employee Dr Bruce Gray and the medical company founded by him, Sirtex Medical Limited.

The case has drawn international interest because of its potential ramifications for the innovation sector.....more

- The discovery of the ancient spice saffron as a promising treatment for age-related diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), may provide new clues about what drives the aging process. In a feature article Ancient spice saves ageing nerves, Italian researchers Professors Silvia Bisti and Bernedetto Falsini (left) and University of Sydney's Professor Jonathan Stone (right) write that the spice may counteract marginal imbalances in the ability of cells to self-repair age-related stresses, leading to improvements and even reversal of age-related macular degeneration....more

- Carla Gebor, director of the Australian National Alliance comments in ‘Effective networks the key to success’ on the Governments National Enabling Technologies Strategy, and the Nanotechnology in Australia report by the Australian Academy of Science....more

- Dr Mark Matthews, director of the Forum for European-Australian Science and Technology Cooporation (FEAST) writes in an ARDR opinion piece that tackling global challenges requires increased international collaboration. To do this effectively, impediments to international cooperation need to be removed, for example by implementing standardised ‘agile’ contractual agreements...more

- The President of the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI),  D. Patrick O’Reilly, will deliver a keynote address to delegates of the LESANZ 2010 Conference in Adelaide (22-24th April 2010). In a guest column in the ARDR, he writes about  ‘open innovation’, a new corporate management approach which “reflects a growing trend for companies to use external invention sources in their innovation programs”....more

Highlights of the February edition included:

- In' Global food outlook' the ARDR reviews the state of food security, both globally and domestically, and how technology developments such as GM crops and a growing biofuels industry may impact on future food supply. The article draws on a number of reviews published recently in a special issue of the journal Science on global food security. In addition, reports by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation were used for additional domestic context.

-Dr Cathy Foley, acclaimed physicist with the CSIRO and the new president of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) reflects on whether science faces its own 'Global Crisis'. There are enormous expectations from society, she writes - "The modern scientist is expected to be entrepreneurial, competitive while making every piece of research count" - but there is very little understanding of the processes that govern scientific endeavour. There is a major challenge ahead as parts of society lose faith in scientists and their motivation...more

-The tragedy of the Tasmanian devil continues, as an aggressive facial cancer spreads threatening the extinction of the species. Professor Jenny Graves, ANU, writes a fascinating story, Genomics to the rescue of the devil' about a scientific journey that has very recently led a young Australian researcher, Dr Liz Murchison, to discover the origins of the cancer, providing hope for the devil...more

- The 'digital dividend', the radiofrequency spectrum the Government says is 'freed-up' by the switchover from analogue to digital transmission, will soon be up for 'grabs'. A Green Paper on the use of the 'dividend' was recently released and is currently open for comment. Dr Matthew Sorell, senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide, is untangling some of the mysteries around the issue. For starters, the term 'digital dividend' is misleading "because in fact a great deal of spectrum had to be found to effect the digital changeover, and all we are doing now is handing an equivalent amount back, namely the spectrum which was previously used for analogue TV....more

- Governments need to manage uncertainties and risks that markets can't cope with. To do that they need to be innovative, says Dr Mark Matthews, director of the Forum for European-Australian Science and Technology Cooporation (FEAST). A recent ANAO decision-support framework for the public sector focuses on ways to reduce risk aversion in order to innovate. But what about dealing with challenges where the risk is uncertain - challenges that cannot be easily quantified, accurately forecast or managed? Matthews argues that to deal with uncertain risks, the concept of 'preparedness' needs to have a more central role in science and innovation policy...more

- 'Inspiring Australia', Australia's first national report on science communication, is the focus of an ARDR special, demonstrating that while welcome, the report raises also some questions...

PLEASE NOTE: The ARDR MAGAZINE was last published in 2012;
it is now a purely web-based publication: click here for more information.