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Universities Australia criticises manufacturing taskforce

Universities Australia has criticised the Prime Minister’s Manufacturing Taskforce for undervaluing the role of basic research in boosting national innovation.

In its report, ‘Smarter manufacturing for a smarter Australia’, released on 16 August, the taskforce recommend that research funding should be tied to collaboration with the manufacturing industry, a proposal that Universities Australia has opposed.

The taskforce, set up last year, aimed to map out a shared vision for the future of Australia’s manufacturing sector and help strengthen businesses in a changing economy, including the rise of Asia.

But “heavy handed direction” of research is not the way to go, argued Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, the peak body representing the sector.

“Universities Australia is concerned that the report understates the value of basic research as a fundamental building block of the research system needed to support innovation and product development”, she said.

She added the group is “extremely disappointed” that the research community was not adequately consulted during work on the report.