“The purpose of that group is to advise the minister on how we could bring industry and business closer with universities, and particularly through education,” she said.
“We have $900 million that we will be looking at how to distribute that to universities over a four-year period.”
Collaborations between Australian business and unis generate $12.8 billion a year in revenue and support just under 40,000 jobs
Curtin University vice chancellor Professor John Chapman
Professor Leinonen said the NPILF was looking at what business and industry needed from universities, and while there were “fantastic examples” of how the sectors worked together, it needed to be scaled up.
Edith Cowan University vice chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said a recent collaboration between government, industry, unions, and the university’s Bunbury campus for a feasibility study into advanced manufacturing was one of those “fantastic examples”.
“The point about it is … we all had a willingness to do it, and also a clear vision of what that could achieve,” he said.
“What was very clear is you can have advanced manufacturing but there’s no point in having it unless you have the education support behind it, to allow people to have access to advanced manufacturing.
“That’s just one example but I’m sure all of us could give lots and lots of examples; we’re doing it (working collaboratively with business and government) every day, and that’s just one example of what we do.”
Curtin University vice chancellor Professor John Chapman said Australia’s investment in research and development was at its lowest level in 15 years, at about 1.79 per cent of gross domestic product, while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average was well over 2 per cent.
“And yet existing collaborations between Australian business and universities generate something like $12.8 billion a year in revenue and support just under 40,000 jobs,” he said.
“We know that investment in universities and getting universities involved in projects, boost economic development, social development, delivers a massive direct and indirect return so it’s an issue we are currently facing.”
Professor Leinonen said the road out of the coronavirus pandemic offered a clear opportunity to see universities play a central role in the return to economic and social prosperity.
“When you get universities and government and industry together, major infrastructure projects and great things happen,” he said.
“We can grow out of this, rather than – at the moment – we are in response mode, reaction mode.
“We’re already planning what happens when the borders are lifted and how we diversify operations so we’re not quite so exposed to those border closures through some of the responses that we made to our current issues.”
Lauren is a casual journalist at WAtoday who reports on education and general news.