Science funds boost

THE Western Australian Government has committed up to $40 million in its State Budget towards innovation and development.

At least $32 million has been earmarked for the Government’s InnovateWA policy and will include the adoption of several recommendations made last year by the Premier’s Science Council.

The Centres of Excellence program will be upgraded to include a peer review of submissions and enhanced performance assessment to improve the delivery of outcomes.

Opportunities will also be explored to consolidate existing Centres of Excellence into larger facilities thereby minimising overhead costs and the duplication of assets and activities.  The budget papers foreshadow that consolidating the Centres of Excellence already in operation will reduce localised competition for limited resources.

The Office of Science and Innovation executive director Bruce Hobbs said an additional $7 million to $8 million was also allocated to boost the number of Centres of Excellence and Cooperative Research Centres in the State.

“We will be putting in place a strategy that will ensure that, perhaps not in this round, but certainly the next that we will be well honed to attract new centres,” he said.

The State Government will use part of the $32 million budget allocation to attract significant developments to the mid-west region of WA. The mid-west region will be promoted as an ideal location for the US$70 million Low Frequency Array and the $US1 billion square kilometre Array radio astronomy projects.

The Neville Stanley Studentship Program, which provides financial assistance to undergraduates undertaking small private sector research projects in an academic environment, will be relaunched in 2003-2004.

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