STA calls for a STEM future fund

Science & Technology Australia (STA) is Australia’s peak body in science and technology and our partner for the annual Professional Scientists Employment and Remuneration Report.

STA recently submitted its May 2019/20 Budget submission, calling for a $2.4bn research translation future fund based on the success of Medical Research Future Fund.

STA has also called for:

  • a 10 year strategic plan and clear 5-year funding commitment to achieve investment of 3% of GDP in research and development (currently 1.8%);
  • better support for STEM education, science and maths teachers, and universities;
  • further investment in programs to support and encourage diversity and inclusion with the science and technology sector;
  • 4 per cent increases for four years for national research funding agencies;
  • a 20 per cent collaboration premium in the R&D tax incentive; and
  • the reinstatement of the demand driven system for funding undergraduate places
CEO Chris Walton said as an STA member organisation, Professional Scientists Australia backed the STA’s budget submission. He called on the government to properly fund science and R&D and to commit to evidence-based public policy. “Suggesting that Australia can’t afford to invest in science and innovation – and cutting funding to universities and research agencies without understanding the long-term impacts – is false economy at its worst. OECD figures show that scientific discoveries and new technology have been the source of long-term economic growth and increased social well-being. When flow-on effects are considered, the impact of STEM amounts to over 26 per cent of Australian economic activity or about $330 billion per year.

Advanced science directly underpins between 10 and 15 per cent of economic activity. Modelling by PwC has found that shifting just 1 per cent of the workforce into STEM roles would add $57.4 billion to GDP over the next 20 years. But the latest figures show that Australia invests only 1.88 per cent of GDP in research and development – well below the OECD average of 2.38 per cent. Business investment in R&D declined for the first time since records have been maintained.We are risking the nation’s future prosperity and falling behind competitor countries. In 2018, R&D spending fell to a 10-year low. These facts speak for themselves. Expenditure on science and R&D is an investment in Australia’s future – not a cost to be cut.”

Read about STA’s Budget submission here.