During a round of golf on a visit to Australia in 1963, Queen Elizabeth II caught the attention of journalists.
They noticed that the Queen, unlike all the other players on Royal Canberra Golf Course that day, wasn’t covered in flies.
In fact, Her Royal Highness was virtually fly-free.
Not surprisingly, the journalists quickly got to the bottom of the story. It turns out, at the request of Government House staff, the Queen was liberally sprayed with a dose of CSIRO’s new fly repellant.
A few days later, as word spread, the people at Mortein called the CSIRO researcher who developed the spray, Doug Waterhouse, asking for his formula, which he passed on freely, as was CSIRO’s policy at the time.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The Aerogard story is one of many examples of Australians coming up with bright ideas.
We’ve got a reputation for ingenuity and clever thinking.
From the first indigenous peoples through consecutive waves of migrants, Australians have displayed a genius for the practical in wresting a living from what can be a harsh continent.
The Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio is at the cutting edge of the government’s agenda. We punch above our weight in knowledge creation.
So why isn’t this talent translating into obvious economic benefits?
One solution is to boost collaboration between industry and research. We need more of our research to align with the real world needs of our industry, our businesses and our people.
This is a priority for the Australian Government–especially greater engagement between businesses, universities and the research sector to commercialise ideas and solve problems.
It’s a key pillar of the National Innovation and Science Agenda–our plan to capitalise on the nation’s strengths and turn Australia into an innovation leader.
We’ve always been good at coming up with ideas and creating knowledge.
The fact that we’re not as strong at turning this into commercial reality was a key finding of the recent performance review by Innovation and Science Australia.
The findings will inform work on a plan setting out a long term strategic direction for the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System.
We rank last or second last among OECD countries for our level of business-research collaboration.
We can do better. Through clever policy settings that capitalise on our strengths, the government is committed to ensuring the world-class research taking place right here helps build an economically stronger future for all Australians.
Unlocking the commercial value of Australian research will result in world-first innovation and new, internationally competitive businesses.
It will boost our status as an innovation leader, create jobs and improve the quality of our lives.
I am also a strong supporter of fundamental scientific research and am keen to promote evidence-based policy making.
The government is investing $2.3 billion to maintain critical research infrastructure over the next decade.
We’re allocating $1.5 billion for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy to ensure it continues to drive collaboration between 35,000 researchers, government and industry to deliver practical outcomes.
We’re also investing $520 million to help the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation operate the Australian Synchrotron, which is used by around 4,000 researchers each year for diverse scientific and industrial applications.
We’ve set-aside $294 million for Australia’s commitment to the Square Kilometre Array, the largest and most advanced radio telescope ever constructed.
And to help Australia compete on an international level, the government is investing $36 million over five years in a Global Innovation Strategy to improve Australia’s international innovation and science collaboration.
As part of the strategy, we’ve established Landing Pads in five global innovation hotspots (San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Berlin and Singapore) to help Australian start-ups crack into new markets.
And, just recently, the government announced that CSIRO will open an office in Silicon Valley, as part of a wider push by the organisation to promote scientific collaboration and improve its record in commercialising its own work, and to give Australian entrepreneurs better access to funding.
Our work does not stop there.
Our vision is for a confident, outward looking economy that plays on our research strengths to drive business success and individual opportunity for all Australians.
This will support economic growth, Australian jobs and living standards now and into the future.