Universities clawing back up fund ladder

WESTERN Australia is clawing its way back up the Cooperative Research Centre funding ladder with a new CRC centre that was originally to be based in Victoria now moving to this State.

In a meeting held in Brisbane earlier this week the interim board of the new CRC for Sustainable Resource Processing, which includes members from Curtin University, decided that WA’s links to industry, research footing, and State Government contributions made it the best candidate to headquarter the CRC.

It has begun recruiting for a CEO who will be based in Perth at the Australian Resource Research Centre located adjacent to Curtin University.

Add to this serious discussions taking place by Murdoch University to have the Sydney-based CRC for Environment Biotechnology headquarters moved to Perth and it seems that WA is beginning to flex its research muscle.

The CRC for Sustainable Resource Processing attracted $18.8 million in Commonwealth funding, however, interim CEO Dr Joe Herbertson said the total funding including industry and in-kind support was $90 million.

He said the decision to base the centre in WA was made largely due to Alcoa’s presence in WA.

“That was an influencing factor. There was also the strong research presence in Perth and we are bringing in the Central TAFE. What was also important was the WA Centre of Excellence program that gives financial incentives to set up in WA. I would estimate that would inject an additional $1 million over the life of the project.”

If WA is to secure its second CRC headquarters from the 2002 CRC funding round Murdoch University will need to stave off a bid from the University of Queensland.

“This means identifying what the research strengths are here, what linkages to industry we have, what the involvement of the State Government is and what facilities will be made available,” Murdoch University division of research and development director Paul D’Sylva said.

He said the university expected an outcome in two to three weeks time.

Dr D’Sylva said that the University of NSW could no longer provide resources for the CRC headquarters, that has a total funding pool of $80 million, and felt Murdoch University was in a strong position to attract the centre.

“One of the drivers for us is the fact that Perth is the geographic centre of the partners involved in the CRC, he said.

Dr D’Sylva said having CRCs with headquarters in WA was a crucial element of driving more R&D infrastructure and talent into WA.

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