22/04/2003 - 22:00

CRC funds fight proves divisive

22/04/2003 - 22:00


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ACCORDING to the State Government, WA gained its 10 per cent of funding in the latest round of CRC funding.

CRC funds fight proves divisive

ACCORDING to the State Government, WA gained its 10 per cent of funding in the latest round of CRC funding. However, the universities have highlighted that most of that funding goes towards research headquartered in other States, with WA just a node of those operations. In that case, WA misses out on significant leveraging opportunities, they say.

But are the State’s research institutions doing enough of the hard yards to win the grants and does the Government contribute an appropriate amount? Those issues were open for debate on the panel’s discussion of the role of CRCs.

p Bruce Hobbs

“One perturbation I would like to throw in now is that the article (‘WA takes wooden spoon for CRC funds’, WA Business News, January 23) is actually wrong. That it is true that we didn’t get any centre headquarters at the time but we now have one out of that round [the CRC funding round] and we did get our 10 per cent of the funding.

“We are 10 per cent of the population so we did average … without any strategy we have achieved an average run rate of 10 per cent. If we had a strategy then we must be able to double that.”

p Paul D’Sylva

“I don’t know that we are getting our 10 per cent.

“Murdoch is involved in a record number of CRCs as what we call a core partners.

“WA received two supplementary funding allocations totalling about $5.9 million versus Queensland that received 10 funding awards totalling $140 million and this is from a pie of about $500 million. So I am not sure that we are performing at the average right now.

“Who should we benchmark against? Who is our comparator? There is some good empirical information that it is South Australia. If we look at our performance compared to SA then we really have a way to go. Maybe having some plans and priorities is a good way to start.”

p Julie Bishop – Federal member for Curtin

“My understanding is that there are two research centres in Western Australia, but as well as that there are 11 CRCs with nodes in WA and the commitment is $223 million. We have an existing five CRCs headquartered here and that is a total commitment of some $86 million over seven years.

“All told we have 20 existing CRC nodes so I guess it is how you package it and present it. Total CRC funding for WA, whether it’s headquartered nodes, is about $406.85 million, or $407 million. As of July 2003 total funding for CRCs either headquartered or nodes are $610 million so I think the point is whether headquartering here is a significant issue.

“What does stand out is Queensland’s performance but then you have to look at some underlying issues such as how much did the Queensland Government spend on R & D and how much does the WA Government spend, and how much can they expect back.”

p Simon Carroll

“I was concerned with $5.9 million and Paul’s view is correct, in that post awarding there is a lot of horse trading that goes on. The cash contribution to areas follows the expertise required by the CRC to fulfil their mission and where we don’t quite know the data yet is how much of that cash will also come.

“Boards of CRCs make decisions against what will fulfil their mission, not what has been pledged.

“What is the underpinning infrastructure and IP capacity that will afford us the winning edge in those negotiations? Do we have them now and, if not, what do we need to do about it?

“It is the inside the management of the CRCs that will determine how much money will come here. My recent experience tells me that the Nullarbor Plain is something we have to get over both physically as well as psychologically. WA has to get over it.”

p Ian Murchison

“We’ve seen almost nothing in the CRC yet every investment we would make has a Start Grant element. The Start Grant is much more of a focus for us.”

p Paul D’Sylva

“We don’t want to be a branch economy here. Having them headquartered here is important for that. The rate at which we convert IP into products and going to market is a separate issue but unless we have money to do research we won’t have anything to commercialise.”

p Julie Bishop

“I don’t know that we’ve looked at whether there is sufficient Federal Government spending. Is the pie big enough?

“One concern is the way applications and submissions are put together. I don’t think Queensland has won them accidentally. My limited experience with CRCs is that our applications are a little on the run. I got the impression that we weren’t doing enough work with the other States and the other institutions and the other universities. I think we have to have a long hard look at how we present.

“UWA attracts more competitive research funding per capita than any other university in Australia. We have the potential here.”


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