FDI submission to the by forrests

VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 4

									Our Ref: Corr03/LC/DH

3 September 2003

Knowledge and Innovation Review Secretariat Department of Education, Science and Training Location 121
GPO Box 9880

CANBERRA ACT 2601

Dear Sirs

FDI submission to Evaluation of Knowledge and Innovation Reforms
Please find attached our submission on the Evaluation of Knowledge and Innovation Reforms Issues Paper, released for comment in August 2003. Future Directions International Pty Ltd (FDI) is an independent, non-profit research organisation and DEST endorsed Approved Research Institute (ARI). We firmly believe that Australia would be well-served by a robust, independent, non-profit research community. However, this sector is in its infancy and deserves support. In its review of the Knowledge and Innovation Reforms we urge the Committee to help build diversity and strength in Australia’s research capability by recommending that: 1. the contestability of Commonwealth research funding is extended to include the ARIs and 2. that the NCGP be made a fully-funded scheme. If you require any further information or have any questions regarding our submission please contact myself or our Research Manager, Dr David Horn. Yours sincerely

Mr Lee Cordner, AM Managing Director lcordner@futuredirections.org.au

Future Directions International Pty Ltd September 2003

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Evaluation of Knowledge & Innovation Reforms

FDI submission to the Evaluation of the Knowledge and Innovation Reforms
A significant omission from Australia’s strategy for building a world-class knowledge and innovation capability is its lack of support for the independent non-profit sector, particularly the DEST endorsed Approved Research Institutes (ARIs). Through this omission, Australia is missing an important opportunity to build diversity and to strengthen its research capability. The original Knowledge and Innovation policy statement, issued in December 1999, sought to address the issue of how best to “ensure that Australia keeps pace with global revolution in knowledge production and its use; is an attractive site for research and development investment; and provides opportunities for our best and brightest researchers and innovators”. The policy statement included such objectives as building institutional diversity and ensuring contestability of research funding. However, the detail of the statement focused only on one component of Australia’s knowledge and innovation capability - the university sector. The current evaluation of the reforms introduced in the Knowledge and Innovation policy statement appears to be continuing that unfortunate precedent. In the United States there are over 1500 independent non-profit research institutes with annual budgets ranging from US$3 million to nearly US$30 million 1. Although many of these institutes thrive on a supportive philanthropic environment, many also receive US Federal Government research funding through agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF). Organisations such as the Brookings Institution and RAND are highly valued in the US for their contribution to knowledge and innovation, particularly in the applied social sciences. They are seen as providing an important source of independent research and analysis and an important link between new knowledge and public policy. In Australia there are only a relatively small number of independent non-profit research institutions and currently only ten ARIs 2. In comparison with the US system, the Australian non-profit institutes are poorly funded, a position made more difficult by their restricted access to Commonwealth research funding. Although the ARIs are endorsed by DEST as having the necessary research systems and supervision to manage a research program, the Australian Research Council (ARC) has determined that they are ineligible as host institutions for National Competitive Grants Program funding. In contrast, in the US the National Science Foundation (NSF) welcomes funding proposals from non-profit, nonacademic organisations. Access to public research funding is a contributing factor to the success of the US independent research sector. If the original Knowledge and Innovation policy objectives of building institutional diversity and ensuring contestability of research funding are to be realised, an important first step would be to ensure the contestability of Commonwealth research funding, particularly the National Competitive Grants Programme (NCGP) by the Commonwealth endorsed ARIs.
1

THINK TANKS IN BRIEF FACT SHEET U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda November 2002, an electronic journal of the Department of State, International Information Programs http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itps/1102/ijpe/pj73fact2.htm
2

ATO correspondence in February 2003 listed nine ARIs in addition to FDI. Page 2 of 4

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The intention of the NCGP was to provide grants to individuals, teams and centres for investigator-initiated proposals through an open national competitive process and the inclusion of the ARIs as eligible host institutions would support the original objectives. After contestability, a second important step would be to make the NCGP a fully-funded scheme – that is, including the direct and indirect costs of research (including supervision and administrative costs). Unlike the universities, the ARIs do not have access to Commonwealth block funding or any other form of Commonwealth research infrastructure funding, so they must meet the indirect costs associated with research projects from other funding. In the case of non-profit ARIs (by definition non-profit entities), this means from philanthropic donations and corporate support. Furthermore, it has been argued that the current block funding arrangements, particularly the Institutional Grants Scheme (IGS), allow universities to subsidise research proposals in competition with other organisations such as ARIs that do not have access to Commonwealth research infrastructure funding. A move towards a fully-funded model for the NCGP would remove this anomaly. Australia would be well-served by a robust independent non-profit research community. However, this sector is in its infancy and deserves support. We urge the Review Committee to help build diversity and strength in Australia’s research capability by recommending that 3. the contestability of Commonwealth research funding is extended to include the ARIs and 4. that the NCGP be made a fully-funded scheme.

Future Directions International Pty Ltd September 2003

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Future Directions International Pty Ltd (FDI)
Future Directions International (FDI) is an independent, non-profit organisation established to conduct comprehensive, integrated research and analysis of important medium to longterm issues facing Australia. FDI is a Commonwealth Government endorsed Approved Research Institute and Deductible Gift Recipient. With headquarters in Perth and an of fice in Canberra, FDI’s vision is: “to be Australia’s leading independent source of vision and strategic research.” The vision behind FDI grew out of a common belief amongst some leading Western Australians, for example Sir Charles Court, Major-General Michael Jeffery, Kim Beazley, Dr Patricia Kailis, Harold Clough and Sir Laurence Brodie-Hall, that there was a need for an organisation to undertake independent research and analysis to provide informed, balanced advice to key decision-makers in the public and corporate sectors in order to enhance the quality of strategic planning for the benefit of all Australians. It was thought that Australia should develop it’s own equivalent of the Brookings Institution or RAND. In response, the organisation was established in May 2000 under the chairmanship of former Western Australian Governor Major-General Michael Jeffery and with the name Centre for International Strategic Analysis (CISA). The initiative received strong bipartisan support from the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments and Oppositions, as well as support from the academic sector and corporate sponsors. The Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence have both seconded staff. The Western Australian Coalition Government led by Richard Court provided a start-up grant and the Gallop Government has continued to provide support. Curtin University of Technology, Murdoch University, the University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University are contributing significant funds and in-kind support. In November 2002, the organisation changed its name to Future Directions International (FDI) to reflect its broader research interests – broader than the security and international affairs issues for which it had established a reputation. FDI is a truly independent research institute and is not tied to any particular university, government agency, corporation or industry body, although FDI has received support from a wide range of sources. FDI’s independence gives it a unique capacity to harness and coordinate the endeavours of public and private universities and to form effective partnerships with other research organisations from around Australia and overseas. FDI is especially proud of its involvement with all of the universities in Western Australia and its developing relationship with CSIRO. In February 2003 FDI was approved by the Commonwealth Department of Education Science and Training (DEST) as an Approved Research Institute with endorsement from the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient and Income Tax Exempt Charity. DEST approval as an Approved Research Institute is acknowledgement that FDI has the necessary expertise, constitutional structure and administrative procedures to manage a research program.

Future Directions International Pty Ltd September 2003

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