Australia injects additional A$311 million into science and innovation

2 October 2001 Australia has increased R&D funding in the federal budget for 2001-2002 by 7%, bringing the overall budget to nearly A$4.7 billion – the highest amount ever spent by the Commonwealth on S&T.

Announced in May 2001 by the Australian Ministry for Industry, Science and Resources, the funding boost reflects Australia’s policy emphasis on the development of a knowledge-based economy and stronger national innovation system.

The A$311 million increase for science and innovation is the result of a combination of several key government initiatives, including the first tranche of the $2.9 billion Innovation Statement Backing Australia's Ability announced in early 2001.

A particular highlight of the budget is the more than 50% increase in medical research funding (to a total of A$379 million). A further A$86 million in capital funding in 2001-2002 will go to the construction of the replacement research reactor at Lucas Heights.

The replacement reactor is the largest single investment in S&T in Australia's history. In addition to providing vital research facilities for industry, it will also manufacture medical radioisotopes.

The coming year will also see a strategic injection of almost A$70 million into the information technology and biotechnology sectors, together with funds to enhance Australia's growing venture capital.

According to recent OECD figures, the Australian government financed 47.8% of R&D in 1998, compared to 45.0% by private industry. Gross domestic expenditure on R&D amounts to 1.7% of gross domestic product, which is close to the European Union average.

Source: Media Release by Australian Ministry for Industry, Science and Resources (Tuesday, 22 May 2001)