NEW dollar-for-dollar schemes backed by the federal government are needed to stop the miscarriage of promising research due to a lack of commercialisation funding.
The boost is needed to encourage universities and medical institutes to set aside discretionary funds for crucial early stage proof-of-concept work once Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council grants are exhausted, according to a leading commercialisation body.
“After ARC or NHMRC-funded research is complete, there is often nowhere to go for early stage commercialisation funding,” Knowledge Commercialisation Australia chair Andy Sierakowksi argues in a submission to chief scientist Ian Chubb.
“This continues to be a market failure.”
Professor Chubb had called for “top breakthrough actions” to help the research and business communities develop Australian ideas into products that can “contribute to national productivity”.
The KCA submission says that institutions with seed-funding schemes should be able to provide up to $100,000 per project knowing the government will match it. Pre-seed funding is essential to get research to proof-of-concept stage and interest investors.
The government should also set up a “research translation” fund to cover a range of other needs, such as training university staff and students in intellectual property management, technology transfer and interaction with industry and business.
“This fund could be indexed to a university’s research income, and be pegged to a maximum annual value (which) might be one to two per cent of that university’s research income,” he said.
Submissions to Professor Chubb’s challenge come in an uncertain research funding environment.
There have been concerns that the government might cut or delay research funding schemes in its attempt to reach a budget surplus.