Aimee Chanthadavong
April 17, 2019

Growth Centre review is shelved

Policy

Growth Centre review is shelved

Bottom Drawer: Running a ruler over the Growth Centres performance, but keeping results close 

With the federal government now in caretaker mode ahead of the May poll, the Department of Industry has quietly shelved the public release of its Industry Growth Centres performance review.

Despite completing the four-month long performance assessment of the six Industry Growth Centres last November together with research firm the Nous Group, the Department of Industry has yet to release any details of its findings.

InnovationAus.com has been told the review is now unlikely to see the light of day until after the federal election. 

"The public release of the performance assessment is a matter for the Australian Government, noting that caretaker conventions are now in effect," a spokesperson for the department said.

The Growth Centres performance review had been commissioned to follow the release of a report – also by the Nous Group – released last year that reviewed the effectiveness of the communications activities of each growth centre.

Labor industry spokesman Kim Carr, who has been vocal about seeing the review, said the Opposition had requested for the report during a Senate estimates hearing earlier this month. 

"Labor sought the report because the Government has made further cuts the Growth Centres program," he told InnovationAus.com.

"When it is available we will study the report carefully to see what impact the program has had on business innovation."

The Industry Growth Centres initiative was launched in 2014 by then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott as part of his $400 million innovation and competitiveness policy. The objective of the Industry Growth Centres was to encourage Australian businesses to better utilise the expertise of Australian researchers.

Five Industry Growth Centres were originally setup, each designed to target sectors where government felt Australia had a competitive advantage.

These areas included food and agri-business; mining equipment, technology and services; oil, gas and energy resources; medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, and advanced manufacturing sectors.

A sixth centre was added when Malcolm Turnbull become Prime Minister. He unveiled as part of the Australian government’s Cyber Security Strategy the Australian Cyber Security Network, which has since been re-named to AustCyber. 

Initially, the not-for-profit centres were supposed to become self-funding through membership fees and member services after its initial four-year funding period ended.

At the end of last year, Senator Carr openly questioned whether the public was getting any value for money from the $120 million investment program.

He also accused the Industry Growth Centres program had drawn attention away from the Cooperative Research Centre program, and that public-private research collaboration had suffered as a result.

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