‘Innovation engine room’: $117m for research infrastructure in NSW

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The New South Wales government is investing $117 million over four years in research infrastructure, including a $10 million funding stream for quantum technologies, as it looks to grow the state’s emerging high-value industries.

The funding comes through a new Innovation Research Acceleration Program (IRAP), announced on Wednesday, and is part of the $703 million Future Economy Fund revealed in the June state budget.

The budget contained a record investment in science, research and development after warnings the government’s relatively low spend in the area had become a barrier to the state’s innovation push.

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The new IRAP has two sub-programs. The first, a $31 million Infrastructure Build Out Program, offers competitive grants up to $10 million for new or improved shared research facilities under a one-year competitive grant program.

$10 million of this Build Out program has been set aside for quantum technology infrastructure, while the remaining $21 million is a general funding stream for infrastructure that aligns with the state’s 20-Year R&D Roadmap or Industry Development Framework.

Applications are open now, with recipients to be revealed in June.

The second IRAP sub program is to support the Commonwealth-led National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). The state’s NCRIS Support Program will invest $86.4 million over four years to provide additional investment in infrastructure initiatives funded through the Commonwealth Government’s research infrastructure plan.

Applications for the additional state support are open now, with recipients to be announced in April.

The Build Out funding will be aligned to priority research identified in the New South Wales 20 Year R&D Roadmap released earlier this year, or to the state’s Industry Development Framework. The NCRIS support funding can also be aligned with the 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.

IRAP is being run by the Office of the New South Wales Chief Scientist and Engineer. It was announced Wednesday by Treasurer Matt Kean.

“The world’s biggest companies started with a simple idea, and this R&D acceleration program will help unlock opportunities, foster innovation and kickstart businesses that will create the industries and jobs of the future,” Mr Kean said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the NSW Innovation and Productivity Scorecard, identified the state government’s sub-$400 million investment in R&D is at the very bottom of a ranking of large Australian states, the OECD, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, the US and other comparable jurisdictions.

The June Budget sought to address this with a $703 million Future Economy Fund for R&D, commercialisation and business growth and relocation to the state, as well as another $531 million for new large scale facilities.

Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Alister Henskens said research infrastructure is key turning the state’s R&D into commercial outcomes, but often presents a barrier to innovators.

“Often such equipment and expertise is expensive or unattainable for many research organisations and companies. The IRAP is designed to enable the delivery of, and equitable access to, essential research and innovation infrastructure,” he said.

“This means more innovative ideas will be given the support and access they need to develop, which in turn will help grow our economy and secure NSW’s position as Australia’s innovation engine room.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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