The NSW government will allocate $28 million to bushfire research and development in next week’s state budget, with an Emerging Industry Infrastructure Fund to also be unveiled.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced the R&D funding on Tuesday, which will be delivered at $7 million per year for the next four years as part of a new R&D Mission to focus heavily on bushfire technologies.
R&D Missions to solve the state’s long term strategic challenges were a key recommendation of an R&D acceleration plan released in January after two years of work.
The 2020 NSW Bushfire Inquiry also recommended the government establish the state as a major world centre of bushfire research and technology development and commercialisation.
“The 2019-20 bushfires claimed lives, destroyed thousands of homes and cost NSW billions, this investment will go towards reducing the impact of bushfires and responding in the most effective way possible,” Mr Perrottet said.
“This focus on new technology to enhance planning, preparation and response will save jobs when a disaster strikes and boost jobs in new industries.”
The R&D mission will have a strong focus on technology and include the establishment of a Bushfire Technology Network to engage small businesses to develop and commercialise bushfire technologies to be tested by frontline NSW bushfire services.
The NSW Bushfire Inquiry recommended making the state a world leader in bushfire research and technology, including a Bushfire Technology Fund modelled on the state’s existing Medical Devices Fund.
Since 2013 this medical fund has awarded more than $60 million for the development and commercialisation of 37 medical device technologies.
Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, said the Bushfire Mission will primarily focus on technology.
“The Mission will develop the use of real-time data from space, air and ground-based assets, ensure fire ground decisions made are based on information and computer-aided tools, and enable the use of equipment including robots to aid responders,” Professor Durrant-Whyte said.
“Technologies from NSW companies which prove themselves will attract interest from global markets.”
Next week’s state budget will also include $8 million over two years to establish an Emerging Industry Infrastructure Fund.
The co-investment fund will play to the state’s strengths like quantum computing and synthetic biology, with sovereign semiconductor production capabilities suggested as a potential investment by the government.
“This fund will target new industries where NSW potentially has a comparative advantage and where co-investment in joint infrastructure will both build on existing industry and attract global companies and investment into NSW,” the New South Wales government said.
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