“The review will be comprehensive and will consider all aspects of the CRC program,” says Senator Carr. “It will examine the overall strategic direction of CRCs, looking at the full range of issues, including governance and program design issues, the level and length of funding needed to support the program’s objectives, and its overall scope and effectiveness.”
“The terms of reference for the wider review of the national innovation system are broad ranging and will ensure a thorough and complete review of all elements of the CRC program is carried out.
"An important focus of the wider review will be examining how we can better target Australia’s innovation capabilities and examining what principles and actions might better position Australia to unlock its full innovative potential.
“The Rudd Government is absolutely determined to restore public benefit as one of the primary objectives of the CRC program. This basic principle was stripped away by the Howard Government and it will definitely apply again from the next funding round.”
The CRC review will be chaired by Professor Mary O’Kane, who has extensive experience in high tech, commercialisation, national research strategies and higher-education policy. Stakeholder participation will be central to the review process and its success.
The CRC program was initiated by the Hawke Government in 1990. CRCs are provided with funding to develop collaboration between industry, Australian universities and public sector research agencies. The aim is to transform innovative research concepts into useable products and processes.
Across the program’s lifetime, 168 CRCs have been funded (there are currently fifty-eight). The Commonwealth has committed nearly A$3 billion to the program since its inception.
The next CRC selection round will be held once the government has considered the outcomes of the review of the national innovation system.
“Our aim is to have the next selection process completed by the middle of 2009,” Senator Carr says. “I have asked my department to liaise with CRCs about the review and to put in place a process to manage the impacts of a delayed selection round.”