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Australia’s national R&D effort is faltering – call for contributions from readers for our new editorial series

Updated: Apr 10

By Peter Roberts 10 April 2024

@AuManufacturing News and Media is one of many voices concerned at a precipitous fall in national R&D effort since 2008 – innovation is the lifeblood of the economy and Australia’s effort is faltering.

The fall, which accelerated under the coalition government, has not been reversed by the new Labor government despite Canberra having an ambitious target of 3% of GDP invested nationally in R&D.

According to an exhaustive analysis written by leading innovation analyst Dr John Howard exclusively for @AuManufacturing and published here today, Australia’s innovation effort is at its lowest level in 15 years. Dr Howard is the Executive Director, Acton Institute for Policy Research and Innovation and a Visiting Professor, UTS Institute for Public Policy and Governance.

Today @AuManufacturing launches a new article series – Towards 3% – turbocharging our national innovation effort.

We are crowd sourcing article contributions from readers and members of our Australian Manufacturing Forum networking and discussion group to be published online over a one month period and later in an e-book.

According to Dr Howard: “For Australia to make the 3% target more than a rhetorical aspiration, serious investments are required by the business and government sectors.

“A possible bright light is higher education investment in R&D, where the Australian investment as a proportion of GDP is among the highest in the world.”

However the question is whether investing in university research is the best way for nations and companies to develop economically relevant knowledge.

According to Dr Howard: “It is the business and government sectors that are not pulling their weight. All have distinct but complementary roles in the ‘triple helix’ of business-higher education-government collaboration.”

@AuManufacturing will begin publishing contributions for our series – Towards 3% – turbocharging our national innovation effort – next week and we urge you to contribute. Call Peter Roberts, 0419 140679 or write to

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