top of page

Research & Development Policy

The Acton Institute has been actively involved in addressing the performance of Australia's Research and Development policy and strategy. This continues with the ongoing decline in Australia's National Research and Development effort.

Innovation systems, research and development, technological innovation, people and _soft_
Current Projects

Turbocharging Australia's R&D Effort to 3% of GDP

Four papers are being prepared for this project—

1. The Statistics do not lie: R&D has slumped

2. Why Business R&D has crashed

3. How to reverse our slide

4. Structural issues

Publication is expected late April - May

Disrupting the R&D Paradigm in the Digital Age

In an era where the pace of technological advancement is unprecedented, the domain of research and development (R&D) is undergoing a profound transformation. This project explores this significant shift, focusing on how digital technologies are reshaping the landscape of R&D in diverse industries.


This project recognises that the traditional models of R&D are being challenged and redefined by the advent of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, and blockchain. These technologies are not merely tools enhancing existing processes; they are catalysts fundamentally altering how research is conceptualised, conducted, and commercialised. The implications of this shift are vast and varied, affecting everything from the speed and efficiency of R&D processes to the very nature of the workforce required to drive innovation forward.

The project is structured to provide a comprehensive understanding of the digital disruption in R&D. It begins by tracing the evolution of R&D practices, providing a historical context that sets the stage for appreciating the magnitude of current changes. It delves into the specific technologies at the forefront of this disruption, exploring their individual and collective impacts on the R&D sector.


It also examines how these technological advances have democratised R&D, enabling startups and smaller firms to challenge established players and bring innovative products and solutions to the market more rapidly and cost-effectively.

However digital R&D involves a cost. With ever-increasing sophistication in hardware, software and applications, the financial implications on R&D budgets are profound. 

The transformation of the R&D workforce in response to these technological changes is another critical area of focus. The demand for new skill sets, the challenge of talent acquisition, and the role of education and training are explored to understand how the human element of R&D is evolving.

In addressing these themes, the project goes beyond merely describing changes. It aims to provide insights and strategies for businesses, policymakers, and academic institutions to navigate and leverage the disruption in R&D.


The project outcomes are intended for a broad audience, including R&D professionals, business leaders, policymakers, academics, and anyone interested in understanding the rapidly changing landscape of innovation.

The project is not just an analysis of the current state of R&D. It aims to provoke thought about its future directions. This book is an invitation to engage with the unfolding story of R&D in the digital age, to understand its challenges, and to envisage its vast possibilities.

The SRI Tables: What They Tell Us About Australia's R&D Performance

On 15 February 2024, the Department of Industry, Science and Resources published the 2023-24 Science Research and Innovation Budget Tables.

The Tables contain a wealth of information about the performance and (implied) priorities of Australia’s investment in R&D and what are termed “Other Innovation Programs”. The material is rich in detail and is a credit to the Departmental Officers responsible for compiling it and improving the data quality over the years.

The disappointing aspect of the Budget Tables is that they do not show a material improvement in the Commonwealth Government’s investment in R&D since 2011-12. In fact, the investment has been going backwards.


This Project delves into the content of the SRI Budget Tables to find out what they mean and actions required to build Australia’s R&D capacity and capability.

International Comparisons of Research Systems

Over the period March-June 2023, we undertook a survey analysis of university research and research funding systems (and how it fits within the broader innovation ecosystem) of Australia’s international competitors. With the permission of the Department, this work will be extended and updated. 

bottom of page