THE state government has almost doubled funding to City West-based interactive science museum, Scitech, in a bid to overcome the dearth of scientists, technology experts and engineers in Australia. The not-for-profit organisation will receive $41.6 million over five years to 2013, up from $24 million during 2002-07. Scitech chief executive Alan Brien said an expected shortfall in science, engineering, and technology professionals had been widely touted as a threat to Australia’s competitive position in world markets. During the past year, he said, education institutions such as Scitech had scrambled to find a solution to the issue. “We have been operating for 20 years to inspire dynamic, creative thinkers and this has applications beyond the boom because our future depends on a smarter, more informed society,” Mr Brien told WA Business News. “Scitech is specifically tasked with making science more engaging and stimulating, especially to young children and families. “We believe that if more people have an understanding of science issues, the better it is for the community.” Scitech will use the increased funding to expand its reach into remote and regional communities, to establish a new service to deliver science to schools in the outer metropolitan area, and to increase the number of children under five years old exposed to science. In August, Erica Smyth, a former director at Woodside Energy, will become the new chairperson of the Scitech board, bringing with her two science degrees and a wealth of knowledge and experience. Scitech’s funding boost comes after Premier Alan Carpenter this month announced that the Premier’s Science Awards would become the richest in Australia, offering $400,000 in prize money. “WA is not only producing remarkable science, it is teaching remarkable science to our students, who are themselves creating scientific discoveries that are leading to breakthroughs,” he said.