Australia’s lack of investment in R&D costing 42,000 jobs, says Prof. Sharath Sriram

Australia’s spending on R&D as a percentage of GDP has been on the decline for more than a decade to below 2%.

Prof. Sharath Sriram, President of Science & Technology Australia, recently spoke at the National Press Club in Canberra.

According to STA, the Australian economy would be $100 billion bigger and boosted by 42,000 new jobs if investment in research and development (R&D) was increased to 3% of GDP.

Prof. Sriram observed:

“What’s really holding us back? The shortest answer is a lack of strategy and bold investment. What all these stories highlight is the need for deep long-term and sustained funding strategy with boldness so that Australia can nurture and benefit from the next wave of breakthroughs.”

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He added:

“Low investment in R&D is holding our country back it’s leading to our best ideas going overseas to our international competitors and when we give up our ideas – our intellectual property – it’s never coming back. We just going to pay more for the same products pay more for the same Services. We need to realise that our IP is like gold dust and like these small shiny particles, they will slip through our hands if we don’t grab on tightly.”

Australia’s spending on R&D as a percentage of GDP has been on the decline for more than a decade to below 2%.

By contrast, the US spends more than double Australia’s investment, and South Korea almost triple.

Prof. Sriram said:

“If we were investing that 3%of GDP in R&D right now, the economy would be $100 billion and 42,000 jobs better off. And this is a conservative estimate. To maintain our standard of living, Australia must increase R&D expenditure to 3% of GDP as fast as we can.”

Prof. Sriram is a commercialisation expert at RMIT University and his work connecting industry and researchers has created more than $9 million in commercial partnerships for the university.

He said:

“I’ve personally ridden the bumpy journey to turn these ideas into products and solutions. There are many of you running startup businesses with enormous potential. They to have high hopes, facing high hurdles, so I know what they’re going through.”

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Prof. Sriram argued that the way forward is a connected innovation ecosystem that takes great Australian ideas, turns them into products and services, and draws maximum value for society.

“Unless we become a smarter country, we’re doomed to become a poorer one.”

STA is Australia’s peak body that represents more than 225,000 scientists and technologists working across all scientific disciplines and is an influential contributor to public policy.

WATCH: Professor Sharath Sriram’s Address to the National Press Club of Australia

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