Industry, Innovation and Science
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science drives Australian growth and job creation. We boost Australia’s competitiveness and facilitate economic transformation by backing business, science, innovation and investment. The Department and its portfolio agencies support the building of a strong scientific capability, business innovation, and the commercialisation of new ideas. These are critical requirements for productivity and economic growth.
The Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio has a broad regional footprint. As at 31 December 2018, the portfolio employed 4,340 staff under the Public Service Act 1999. Of this total, 3,560 staff (82 per cent) are based in Canberra, central Sydney and central Melbourne, 377 staff (9 per cent) of staff are based in the wider metropolitan Sydney and metropolitan Melbourne areas, and the other capital cities, and 403 staff (9 per cent) are based in other locations across Australia.
Several portfolio agencies employ 7,328 staff under their own legislation, with 1,603 staff (22 per cent) based in Canberra, central Sydney and central Melbourne, 4,797 staff (65 per cent) based in the wider metropolitan Sydney and metropolitan Melbourne areas, and the other capital cities, and 928 (13 per cent) based in other locations across Australia.
The Portfolio is committed to a high degree of community and industry engagement through its agencies and service delivery, including AusIndustry, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Geoscience Australia, IP Australia, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), and the Office of Northern Australia (ONA). The newly established Australian Space Agency, with its headquarters in Adelaide, will drive innovation and entrepreneurship that support the growth of Australia’s space industry and the broader economy.
The Department’s policies and programs aim to assist businesses across Australia, including in regional Australia, to build their capability, innovate and grow in new and changing markets. Our flagship programs—the Research and Development Tax Incentive, the Industry Growth Centres Initiative, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, and the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program—along with the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, assist individual businesses and sectors across Australia to develop capabilities and skills, and boost productivity.
Other Australian Government projects and programs that engage regional communities and businesses include the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility project, the Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project, the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope Project, the Onshore Gas Social and Economic Research Fund, and the Major Projects Facilitation Agency. Through the ONA and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, the Australian Government is helping to unlock the full potential of northern Australia through new opportunities that support regional job creation and economic growth.
The Portfolio also assists regional businesses and communities develop future workplace skills and knowledge for tomorrow’s industries. This is provided by programs that build Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) capabilities throughout the nation, such as Questacon’s internationally-renowned education and outreach programs, the Women in STEM Ambassador and measures to encourage girls into STEM studies.
Locate the Australian Space Agency in Adelaide
The Australian Government is establishing the home of the Australian Space Agency in Adelaide, South Australia. This measure builds on $41.0 million agreed in the 2018-19 Budget to grow the Australian space industry, including $26.0 million over four years ongoing to establish the Australian Space Agency.
Space Infrastructure Fund
The Government is establishing a $19.5 million Space Infrastructure Fund over four years from 2018-19 for priority infrastructure projects to support the growing and emerging space sectors across the nation. The first of the Fund’s projects, announced as a part of the Adelaide City Deal, is $6 million to support establishment of Space Mission Control facilities in South Australia. The second project will deliver $2 million for the design and development of space manufacturing infrastructure for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis. The Australian Space Agency will oversee the Fund, which will involve industry bodies and state and territory governments co-investing with the Government in a range of projects across the country.
Establish the Australian Space Discovery Centre
As a part of the Adelaide City Deal, the Australian Government is contributing $6 million to the establishment of a new Australian Space Discovery Centre. The Australian Space Agency will partner with Questacon to develop the Centre. Located in Adelaide, the Centre will have national focus and reach, and will provide space oriented STEM education, engagement, and inspiration for young Australians, as well as activities such as mission simulation and training for tertiary education.
Making Innovation Games National
This measure provides $3.6 million to pilot a national roll-out of up to 15 Innovation Games events per year for two years, starting from 2019-20. The Innovation Games will bring together small and medium businesses and students to solve an innovation, technology and/or digital challenge set by a corporate sponsor. The aim is to find real solutions for small business. Part of the Innovation Games pilot will be delivered in regional areas.
Expanding Questacon’s Education Outreach
The Australian Government is providing $15.1 million over three years from 2019-20 to expand Questacon’s education and outreach activities. This funding will enable Questacon to reach more young people and education facilities across Australia, including in remote and regional communities.
Improving STEM Gender Equity in Australia
The Australian Government is providing $3.4 million over the next four years to increase girls’ and women’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) study and careers. This includes:
- a national digital awareness-raising initiative to increase visibility of girls and women in STEM; and
- continued funding for the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative to enable the higher education and research sector to continue to improve gender equity policies and practices (following $2 million from 2016-17—2018-19 through the National Innovation and Science Agenda).
This builds on the 2018-19 Budget measure Encouraging More Women to Pursue STEM Education and Careers, which provided $4.5 million over four years from 2018-19 through:
- a Women in STEM Strategy, informed by a Decadal Plan for Women in STEM, which together provide a roadmap for sustained increases in women’s participation in STEM across Australia;
- a Women in STEM Ambassador will help coordinate and promote action to reduce barriers to women’s participation in STEM. The Ambassador is a national advocate, building awareness and visibility of issues affecting women and girls in STEM, and how they can be addressed to achieve cultural change; and
- a national resource kit will help support the engagement and encouragement of school age girls into STEM study and careers.
White Paper on Developing Northern Australia
The Australian Government is continuing to build on its commitment to northern Australia by laying the right foundations for economic growth to maximise the north’s potential. In 2015, the Australian Government released the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. This $6.2 billion economic development plan is creating the right conditions for growth and prosperity across the north.
Eighty per cent of the White Paper initiatives have been delivered. From delivering roads and water infrastructure to the establishment of the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, the Australian Government is creating an environment that encourages business growth, jobs and investment.
The Office of Northern Australia in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is coordinating the delivery of the White Paper and strategically expanding the northern agenda into a contemporary focus. In addition to this, the Department has responsibility for the delivery of the $5.0 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, and $75.0 million for the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia.
An office of the Major Projects Facilitation Agency and the Office of Northern Australia headquarters have been established in Darwin.
Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility
The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is a major initiative of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. It is an Australian Government $5.0 billion lending facility to finance projects, which may be on concessional terms, via the governments of the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.
As at 1 March 2019, the value of investments across the NAIF’s ten Investment Decisions and three current conditional approvals was approximately $1.3 billion. The estimated total capital value of those projects is $2.8 billion.
The aim of the NAIF is to accelerate infrastructure development by financing that generates:
- public benefit being broad based and ensuring benefits beyond those able to be captured by project proponents;
- growth in the economy and population of northern Australia;
- potential to encourage private sector participation in the financing of northern Australia’s infrastructure needs; and
- sustainable Indigenous participation, procurement and employment outcomes.
Investment Decisions to offer finance are made by the independent NAIF Board in accordance with the NAIF Investment Mandate. NAIF can support projects across all sectors. Examples of the type of projects that may be eligible include ports, airports, rail, roads, water, energy and communications networks. Social infrastructure (including health, education, and research facilities, training and related accommodation facilities), processing facilities (including abattoirs and agricultural processing plants) and transhipment vessels may also be eligible.
Further information is at naif.gov.au.
Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia
The Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia included $75.0 million over 10 years for a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Developing Northern Australia to help northern businesses generate new ideas and innovation that leverage the north’s strengths and address its challenges. The CRC commenced operations in Townsville in 2017-18 and has three initial focus areas; agriculture and food (including aquaculture), northern Australia health service delivery and Traditional Owner-led business development. Industry situational analysis is occurring on broadacre cropping, the beef sector, forestry and aquaculture.
On 17 October 2017, the Australian Government announced Cooperative Research Centre Projects grants totalling $13.9 million for seven industry-led collaborative research projects addressing unique industry problems in northern Australia. The funding for the projects is in addition to the $75.0 million investment in the CRC for Developing Northern Australia.
National Resources Development Strategy—Exploring for the Future
Over four years from 2016-17, the $100.5 million Exploring for the Future program is investigating the potential of mineral, energy and groundwater resources in northern Australia and parts of South Australia. In both these regions the resource potential is relatively poorly known. The program aims to reduce the risk of, and renew the appetite for, investment in mineral exploration, and help identify major new gas and minerals resources.
Exploring for the Future is delivering a comprehensive prospectus of Australia’s resources through the collection and release of nationally significant geological data and information. Access to new and more detailed geological data and information is assisting participants in the resources sector to increase exploration activities in Australia. New pre‑competitive data has the potential to stimulate investment and employment opportunities in minerals and energy exploration, resource development and groundwater resource development.
To date the program has delivered a number of world-leading new datasets and has provided a number of new insights on resource potential. The program is already generating success, with several new mineral exploration tenements picked on the basis of data and several companies, including one of the world’s largest mineral explorers, taking on new exploration licenses on the basis of program data.
Onshore Gas Social and Economic Research Fund
The Onshore Gas Social and Economic Research Fund provides scientific and independent research to enable Australians to form their own views of the social, economic and environmental impacts and benefits of gas projects. This is done through the work of the CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) which is a collaboration between the CSIRO, Commonwealth and state governments and industry.
Since 2014-15, the Australian Government has invested $5.5 million in the expansion of GISERA from Queensland into New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. GISERA’s research program includes: research on surface and ground water; greenhouse gas footprint; agricultural land management; terrestrial biodiversity; and socio‑economic impacts and opportunities. GISERA’s research independence is ensured through the strong governance framework, which includes project approval from Regional Research Advisory Committees and CSIRO’s peer review process. All research and meeting records for the regional research advisory committees for each collaborating jurisdiction are available on GISERA’s website: gisera.csiro.au.
National Radioactive Waste Management Facility—community development package
The Australian Government is currently considering two South Australian communities for the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (the Facility): the Flinders Ranges Local Council region (Wallerberdina Station site nomination); and the Kimba Council region (Lyndhurst and Napandee site nominations).
Once a site has been declared, the Australian Government will support the host community of the Facility, through a $30.1 million Community Development Package. This package consists of:
- a $10.1 million Community Skills and Development Program including $8.0 million in grants, to gain opportunities from the construction and operation of the Facility. The Program will operate during the four year licensing and construction phase. It will include job training and funding programs that upskill and develop businesses and protect and promote local indigenous cultural heritage; and
- a $20.0 million National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Community Fund that will focus on the long-term social and economic sustainability of the host community. The fund will contribute to sustainable health services, agriculture research and development, enhancements to local critical infrastructure and economic diversification.
In addition, up to $3.0 million from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, delivered through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, will promote economic opportunities for the local Aboriginal community.
This package of funding recognises the need to build economic capacity, skills and resilience within the community which hosts the Facility to realise its significant economic benefits.
Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project
The Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project provides $10.8 million in funding, from 2016-17 to 2019-20, to finalise a detailed rehabilitation plan for the former Rum Jungle mine site in the Northern Territory. It also supports maintenance activities at the Rum Jungle Creek South site, a public recreation area.
Better GPS For Regional Australia
The Australian Government is providing ongoing funding ($160.9 million over four years from 2018-19) for a Satellite-based Augmentation System (SBAS). SBAS will deliver precise and high-integrity positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data via satellite across all of Australia and its maritime zones, with an accuracy of 10cm. This will have numerous benefits across multiple industries. This includes: safer and more efficient Australian aviation; safer and easier maritime navigation; safer and more efficient mining through automated operations; improved management of livestock; and improved agricultural yield production.
Significant progress has been made on the SBAS program since its announcement. An agreement has been reached with Inmarsat for ongoing access to a satellite. This will enable the ongoing transmission of test services as well as work focusing on cybersecurity planning, system performance specification and preparation for certification for Australian aviation use.
SBAS, together with the Better GPS to support Australian business measure, will ensure Australia has a world class and comprehensive national positioning capability.
Better GPS To Support Australian Business
Better GPS to support Australian business provides ongoing funding ($64.0 million over four years from 2018-19) for a national positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data network. The National Positioning Infrastructure Capability (NPIC) relies on Global Navigation Satellite Systems and when augmented with a quality national ground station network, can deliver PNT data with 3-5cm accuracy in near real time in areas with mobile phone coverage.
An agreement with the NSW Government has been reached to openly share its PNT data with industry, with further agreement with all other states and territories in negotiation. Through this open data, NPIC is reducing existing barriers and improving coverage so private companies, public organisations, scientists and entrepreneurs in Australia can access national, standardised PNT data. This will drive productivity and encourage innovation in a number of industries—particularly automation and semi-automation in transport, agriculture, mining and construction.
World Class Satellite Imagery To Enable Australian Businesses To Grow
The 2018-19 Budget provided ongoing funding ($36.9 million over three years from 2019-20 and $12.8 million ongoing) to Geoscience Australia’s Digital Earth Australia (DEA) platform. The DEA platform translates over three decades of satellite imagery into insights about the health and productivity of the Australian continent and coastline. This imagery provides a wealth of information for monitoring the environment, and enables Australian business to increase productivity and create new products and services.
DEA is already providing a range of tools and information of interest to regional Australia. For example, the Water Observations from Space product provides a national map of where water has been seen in Australia from 1987 to the present, and can be used to better plan water management strategies. Other DEA products can provide information about water quality, crop health, and pasture and livestock management decisions.
DEA is working with an Australian agricultural start-up to enable it to deliver new spatial information products to the agricultural sector, in particular the red meat industry. The company will use DEA analysis ready data and tools to provide products that will enable farmers and red meat producers to more accurately estimate biomass, enhance their land management practices, and increase productivity and profitability.
Industry Growth Centres
The Industry Growth Centres Initiative is an ongoing program to support industry sectors of competitive strength or strategic priority. The existing Growth Centres in advanced manufacturing; cyber security; food and agribusiness; medical technologies and pharmaceuticals; mining equipment, technology and services; and oil, gas and energy resources, are funded for six years.
The Australian Government has established these Industry Growth Centres in a long-term partnership with key industry leaders. Their aim is to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the sectors, help firms grow and prosper, and generate economic growth and employment. This will enable the Centres to build on their initial success and continue as broader industry and innovation ecosystem, with a view of establishing a hybrid funding model in the long-term.
Three of these Growth Centres in particular—food and agribusiness; mining equipment, technology and services; and oil, gas and energy resources—are sectors with significant operations in regional areas. Other Growth Centres such as advanced manufacturing and cyber security have impacts for both urban and regional areas.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Export Hubs
The $20.0 million SME Export Hubs Initiative is funded for four years from 2018-19 and will help Australian businesses to grow, export and increase local and regional jobs by supporting the development of collaborative business networks (hubs). Export hubs will boost the export capability of local and regional businesses, through supporting activities such as developing collective brands, leveraging local infrastructure to scale business operations, and positioning regional businesses to participate in global supply chains.
The Initiative is supporting export hubs in the priority Growth Centre sectors: advanced manufacturing; cyber security; food and agribusiness; medical technologies and pharmaceuticals; mining equipment, technology and services; and oil, gas and energy resources.
Ten export hubs have shared in almost $6.0 million under the first round of the Initiative. These hubs will help recipients from areas including Armidale, the Capital Region, Dubbo, Gippsland, Newcastle, the New South Wales North Coast and Far South Coast, Mackay, Toowoomba, southern Queensland and regional South Australia, to export.
Industry 4.0 Testlabs for Australia—expansion
An additional $1.0 million was provided in 2018-19 to establish an Industry 4.0 Testlab at the University of Tasmania. The Australian Government provided $5.0 million in 2018-19 to establish Industry 4.0 Testlabs to prepare businesses to transition to the smart factories of the future. Testlabs are being established at the University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, University of South Australia, Swinburne University of Technology, and University of Technology Sydney.
These Testlabs will support small and medium-sized enterprises, including those in regional areas, to improve their skills and capabilities to incorporate technology and innovation associated with Industry 4.0 into their businesses. This pilot program was a result of the principles and framework explored by the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce for the adoption of Industry 4.0 in Australia.
International Space Investment
Funding of $15.0 million over three years from 2019-20 has been provided to enable the Australian Space Agency to partner with international space agencies such as European Space Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency on strategic projects. This investment will provide Australian businesses opportunities to be involved in established international space programs.
International investment by the Agency will act as a vehicle to drive greater participation by Australia in the global space economy. The Agency will consider investments in partnerships with other parties including potentially with states and territories. A rigorous evaluation approach will be applied by the Agency to ensure the investments have maximum impact with minimal outlay. This investment will generate additional high-technology manufacturing activity in regional areas as well as ongoing economic productivity such as transport, logistics, mining and agriculture.
Centre for Defence Industry Capability
The Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) is a $230.0 million initiative of the Defence Industry Policy Statement. Its purpose is to support Australian defence industry to develop the capability and capacity to meet Australian Defence Force capability requirements.
CDIC staff across Australia form a national advisory network that extends to regional areas.
The CDIC coordinates tailored region-based engagements to connect stakeholders within the defence industry and help to grow the Australian industrial base. The CDIC and the Department of Defence are working with states and territories on:
- industrial development activities and support for defence companies;
- region-based activities including trade shows, industry education and communication strategies;
- better connecting businesses with opportunities in other sectors, including internationally; and
exchanging information with region-based defence industry development agencies on current and emerging industrial capabilities to aid in the development and delivery of support programs and initiatives.
The Australian Government established a $155.0 million Growth Fund in 2013-14. The Growth Fund is supporting employees, businesses and the regions most affected by the closure of Australia’s car manufacturing industry. The Growth Fund is helping workers from Holden and Toyota to transition to new jobs, support automotive supply‑chain firms diversify into new products and markets, and to accelerate new business investment in manufacturing. The $90.0 million Next Generation Manufacturing Investment Program is accelerating private sector investment in high value manufacturing in Victoria and South Australia.
Advanced Manufacturing Fund
The Australian Government has provided $100.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to boost innovation, skills and employment in advanced manufacturing, an enabler for both urban and regional areas.
Manufacturing continues to be a major contributor to Australia’s prosperity in cities and regional communities. The funding supports five advanced manufacturing elements:
- The $47.5 million Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund helps industry adjust to the wind-down of car manufacturing. The funding is for up to a third of the cost of capital upgrades to establish and expand high value manufacturing in South Australia and Victoria.
- $4.0 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre supports small scale and pilot research projects.
- $20.0 million under the Cooperative Research Centre Projects initiative is for larger scale research projects.
- $10.0 million is for Automotive Innovation Labs in South Australia and Victoria to increase business access to design and test facilities.
- $5.0 million maintains engineering excellence by investing in student research at universities, technology institutions and in industry.
- $13.5 million is the tariff concession on imported vehicle prototypes and components.
Sugar Mill Upgrade
The Australian Government is committing $20 million to support the transition of the Mossman Mill from a traditional sugar mill to supplying a bio-refinery plant. The successful transition to supplying a bio-precinct allows the north Queensland sugar milling industry to diversify and supports growers and workers along the entire sugar supply chain in Mossman. The Government’s commitment to Mossman Mill will also have flow-on benefits to the entire Mossman region, for which the area’s coastal cane fields are an iconic landscape that shape part of the tourist experience to north Queensland.
Bait Prawn Industry Irradiation Support
The Australian Government recognises the important role the bait industry plays in Queensland and is committed to its continued competitiveness. The Government is providing $5.0 million over three years from 2018-19 to assist the Queensland bait industry manage the risk of the spread of the white spot syndrome virus. The white spot syndrome virus affects crustaceans, such as prawns, crabs and yabbies, causing high prawn mortality, but does not pose a threat to human health or food safety.
This funding will help industry to meet costs associated with the required irradiation of bait caught in the Moreton Bay region of Queensland. The funding will also be used to help educate commercial and recreational fishers on the disease risks to Australian waterways of using non-commercial bait. The measure complements the Australian Government support provided to affected prawn farmers and builds on efforts to support agribusiness. It also supplements other activities undertaken by the Queensland Government to support the Queensland bait industry.
Major Projects Facilitation Agency
The Major Projects Facilitation Agency provides services to ensure that investors and developers are aware of all regulatory approval and compliance obligations that affect their project. The Major Projects Facilitation Agency is a ‘single point of entry’ into the Australian Government and works closely with state and territory governments to complement their activities. It provides information and advice across all tiers of government and across jurisdictions. The Major Projects Facilitation Agency also supports red tape reform by monitoring regulatory impacts on development and identifying opportunities for improvement.
The agency provides a national service and has offices in Launceston, Tasmania and in Darwin in the Northern Territory.
The purpose of Australia’s anti‑dumping system, which is administered by the Anti‑Dumping Commission, is to give Australian producers the opportunity to compete with imports on a level playing field.
Anti‑dumping measures are currently in force on certain imported goods that compete with goods produced by a number of industries that are located in regional Australia. These include the paper industry located in Latrobe, Victoria, and the steel industry, which has its manufacturing hubs in regional New South Wales and South Australia.
The Tradex Scheme provides an upfront exemption from customs duty and goods and services tax on eligible imported goods that are intended for direct export or incorporated in other goods that are exported. This program is broad-based and available to all eligible applicants. The upfront exemption can provide significant cash flow advantages that can also assist the competitiveness of Australian business, including those operating in regional areas, in developing their export markets.
Cooperative Research Centres Program
The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program, established in 1990, is a competitive, merit-based grant program that supports industry‑led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community. The CRC Program has two funding streams:
- CRCs, which undertake medium to long term, industry-led high quality collaborative research; and
- CRC Projects (CRC-Ps), which undertake a short-term, industry-identified and industry-led collaborative research project.
Businesses investing in research and development through CRCs and CRC-Ps are increasing their income, competitiveness and productivity. The CRC Program continues to support CRCs and CRC‑Ps that have impacts on rural and regional Australia.
Currently, the CRC stream has 30 CRCs nationally receiving over $900.0 million and of these, several impact on regional and rural Australia. The CRC-P stream currently has 39 projects led by partners located in regional Australia which are receiving over $80.0 million in CRC Program grant funding.
CRCs and CRC-Ps contribute to strengthening rural and regional development in areas such as our agriculture and mining industries, farming systems and improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Regional businesses (including small and medium‑sized enterprises), Rural Research and Development Corporations, universities and other research organisations can be a part of CRCs and CRC-Ps and their activities.
The Entrepreneurs’ Programme delivered by AusIndustry, is the Australian Government’s flagship initiative for business competitiveness and productivity at the firm level. Services and grants are delivered through four elements: Business Management; Innovation Connections; Accelerating Commercialisation; and Incubator Support.
The Entrepreneurs’ Programme provides businesses across Australia with flexible, tailored support through private sector advice; co‑funded grants to commercialise novel products, processes and services; funding to take advantage of growth opportunities; and connection and collaboration opportunities. The program is supporting businesses in regional Australia through dedicated advisors and facilitators and targeted assistance such as help for flood-affected businesses in North Queensland.
AusIndustry delivers a range of services and programs to connect Australian businesses with information, advice and support to help them start, run and grow.
Support can be accessed through business.gov.au, the 13 28 46 contact centre, and the AusIndustry Network of State and Territory offices, regional managers and more than 140 private sector business advisors and facilitators. Through its national network, AusIndustry is helping businesses in regional Australia access the support they need to boost business competitiveness and stimulate economic growth in their regions.
Urban Living Lab
The Darwin City Deal, led by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, includes funding of $2.7 million over 2019-20 to 2027-28 for the Urban Living Lab. Led by CSIRO, the Urban Living Lab will test new heat mitigation measures and inform future tropical urban design for Darwin.
Innovations to cool and green the city, along with promoting climate-appropriate design, will help change the face of Darwin, transforming it into a best-practice example of tropical urban living.
The Urban Living Lab will bring together local community expertise with trusted scientific expertise to try new methods and measure their effectiveness. It will operate in Darwin and experiment on locally-relevant issues that produce robust outcomes.
The key outcomes of the Urban Living Lab will be measurable improvements in Darwin’s liveability (whilst also meeting parallel objectives of sustainability, productivity and resilience). New knowledge and experience produced will be translated into products and services for other tropical cities.
CSIRO ON Accelerator
As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Government committed $20.1 million over four years from 2016-17 to expand the CSIRO ON accelerator program, assisting the CSIRO to translate research outcomes into commercial opportunities.
As part of the ON accelerator program, ON Prime empowers Australian researchers to attract the resources they need to create impact. It is purpose-built for researchers, with a hands-on learning program to provide skills to take projects and careers forward by navigating the changing research landscape. ON Prime hubs are based on the locations of successful applicants, with the aim for 6-10 teams per hub. In the past, ON Prime hubs have been run in: Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth, Sydney, Toowoomba and Townsville.
LaunchCamp is a two day ON experience designed to help researchers take the first steps towards understanding the market for their research ideas. In 2018, LaunchCamps were held in Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Narrabri and Lindfield.
Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope Project
The Australian Government is a partner in a now 12 nation project to establish the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Observatory, which will operate radio telescopes with unparalleled scientific and technical capabilities. The telescopes will be co-hosted in Australia (which will host the SKA ‘low’ frequency element) and South Africa (which will host the SKA ‘mid’ frequency element), with the global headquarters in the United Kingdom. As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian Government announced $293.7 million over 10 years from 2016-17 to further support Australia’s involvement in the SKA project. The project is currently in its pre-construction design and engineering phase, with construction currently scheduled to commence in 2020.
The Australian elements of the SKA will be sited in the remote Murchison district in the Mid-West region of Western Australia, with support and computing facilities in Geraldton and Perth. Constructing and operating the SKA-Low telescope will generate a variety of benefits for the region, including economic activity, employment and skill development opportunities. The traditional owners of the SKA‑Low site—the Wajarri Yamaji—will be amongst the local beneficiaries. Negotiations for an Indigenous Land Use Agreement for the site are currently underway.
The Australian Government is partnering with the Western Australian Government to enable the SKA project in Australia. The state and Australian governments are actively engaging with a range of regional stakeholders including Indigenous communities, pastoralists, local government, regional development agencies and local business. The Australian SKA Office also meets two or three times a year with its Regional Stakeholders Group. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss the progress of the SKA project and any related issues such as infrastructure, opportunities for education and industry development.
Maintaining Australia’s Optical Astronomy Capability
The Australian Government is investing an additional $26.1 million from 2017-18 to 2020-21 ($119.2 million over 10 years) to maintain Australia’s reputation for world-renowned astronomical research and instrumentation. This measure addresses the critical gap in astronomy capability identified in the astronomy community’s Decadal Plan for Australian Astronomy (2016‑2025).
This measure secures the operation of the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) beyond July 2020, at which time Commonwealth funding was expected to cease. As the AAT is located in regional Coonabarabran, the ongoing operation of the telescope, expected until at least 2024, will continue to benefit regional jobs, tourism, and the local economy.
The investment involves a ten‑year strategic partnership with the European Southern Observatory, signed on 11 July 2017. This partnership is complemented by the transition, from 1 July 2018, of Australia’s world-leading capabilities in optical astronomy from government (the Australian Astronomical Observatory) to a university collaboration led by Macquarie University.
Antarctic Science Collaboration Initiative
The Australian Government is supporting science jobs, strengthening Australia’s national Antarctic interests and Hobart’s role as an Antarctic hub and research city by providing funding certainty for Australia’s Antarctic science program.
The Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio will provide $50.0 million in grant funding over ten years, starting in 2019-20, to establish a new Antarctic Science Collaboration Initiative (ASCI)—a ten year collaborative science, research and innovation grant program.
The ASCI will make a significant contribution to Australia’s overall investment in Antarctic science over the next decade. It will contribute to the objectives of the Australian Antarctic Science Strategic Plan and the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan. The ASCI will also provide funding certainty for critical Antarctic science jobs in Hobart and strengthen Antarctic science capability in Australia.
Inspiring Australia—Science Engagement Program
Building on $22.6 million from 2016-17 to 2018-19, the ongoing Inspiring Australia—Science Engagement Program is providing $7.2 million per year from 2019-20 for a range of science engagement activities around Australia, including in regional locations.
The program provides support for National Science Week, an annual celebration of science that provides opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in science, technology, engineering and maths. The program also supports each state and territory hosting an Inspiring Australia manager to support National Science Week and other science engagement activity.
The program provides funding for a range of other science engagement activities, including:
- Citizen Science Grants to provide opportunities for the public to engage in scientific research projects;
- Maker Projects Grants to support the development of STEM skills in students and young Australians through hands-on learning; and
- Sponsorship Grants for Student Science Engagement and International Competition to help young Australians participate in science engagement events and competitions domestically and around the world.
Questacon Smart Skills Initiative
The Questacon Smart Skills Initiative includes the programs: Smart Skills, Maker Project, Invention Convention and Enterprising Australians. The Questacon Smart Skills Initiative has ongoing funding of $1.7 million per annum through the National Innovation and Science Agenda, announced in December 2015. It is a free initiative developed for secondary school students that creates an awareness of technology, engineering and design thinking amongst young Australians. The Smart Skills program includes: regional tours; in‑school workshops for students; and professional development workshops for teachers. The Maker Project program includes school workshops and school holiday workshops at Questacon; and virtual workshops across Australia. Questacon Smart Skills will tour the following locations for 2019: South East South Australia and Sunraysia; Central West New South Wales to Albury/Wodonga; and Sunshine Coast and Central Queensland.
Questacon tours travelling exhibitions to a range of regional and metropolitan venues across Australia, fulfilling Questacon’s national role and responsibility of providing access to hands‑on informal learning experiences outside the Questacon Centre in Canberra. The interactive exhibitions are developed in‑house by Questacon and provide engagement for all ages. The travelling exhibitions provide a range of size, topics and complexity options suitable for most venue requirements. Travelling exhibitions, as part of Questacon’s core business activity, are funded through the Government’s ongoing funding for Questacon.
Teacher Development Programs
Questacon delivers a range of accredited programs to pre-service, casual and registered teachers through the national outreach programs and stand-alone activities. The programs build confidence, skill and content knowledge in teachers in the delivery of STEM activities in the classroom. The STEM X Academy is an intensive five-day program delivered each January in partnership with the Australian Science Teachers Association and the CSIRO that joins teachers with researchers to develop new activities for the classroom. Teacher development, as part of Questacon core business activity, is funded through the Government’s ongoing funding for Questacon. STEM X was held in February 2019 and is scheduled for the second week of January 2020.