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$11m Commonwealth funding for 14 innovative Tasmania R&D projects.



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$11m COMMONWEALTH FUNDING FOR 14 INNOVATIVE TASMANIA R&D PROJECTS 6 September 2000

6 September 2000            00/392 

$11m COMMONWEALTH FUNDING FOR 14 INNOVATIVE TASMANIA R&D PROJECTS  The Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, today tabled the annual report of the Industry Research and Development Board for 1999-00 which showed that the Commonwealth Government had offered more than $11 million to 14 innovative companies in Tasmania through the R&D Start grants and loans program. 

Seven projects in the engineering and manufacturing sector were offered R&D funding totalling $9.5 million in the last financial year and seven biological industries were offered $1.8 million in funding assistance. 

Senator Minchin said the Government's support for innovation in Tasmania was an acknowledgment of the state's strong R&D base and indicative of its contribution to Australia's R&D effort. 

"In the 1999-2000 financial year, the IR&D Board approved $177 million for 219 projects nationally under its R&D Start Program (grants and loans). With company contributions, this resulted in R&D support of more than $400 million," Senator Minchin said. 

Among the Tasmanian projects to receive R&D Start funding was Caterpillar-Elphinstone Pty Ltd. Their latest R&D project with funding assistance worth a total of $1.6 million is to develop an articulated dump truck (the AD55) for underground mining haulage having a payload of 55 tonnes and an external profile that is not much bigger in dimensions to that of the company's current 40 tonne units.  

For the underground mining industry, the machine will represent a substantial leap forward in terms of load carrying capacity and productivity for material haulage.  

The Commonwealth Government's Commercialising Emerging Technologies Program (COMET), launched in November last year, approved funding of $8.2 million for157 projects nationally. A number of projects are under consideration in Tasmania. One project has been offered assistance of $61 280.  

"The Board estimates that the level of R&D supported in Australia by both Government and business is now approaching the $4.5 billion mark," Senator Minchin said. 

"While that support is very encouraging, the Government considers even more businesses could embrace R&D. This is borne out by the Innovation Summit's report, Innovation -- Unlocking the Future, which found commercialising R&D was essential to improve the national economy.  

The final report of the Innovation Summit was handed to the Government on Monday.

"We can prove that we are internationally competitive only if our innovative projects make it on to the world stage, and that is why the Commonwealth Government, through its R&D programs, is encouraging businesses and research institutions to undertake R&D," Senator Minchin said. 

Further information on R&D Start and other AusIndustry products and services -- including the R&D Tax Concession, the Innovation Investment Fund, the Commercialising Emerging Technologies Program and the Cooperative Research Centres -- can be obtained by visiting the AusIndustry website at www.ausindustry.gov.au or by calling the AusIndustry Business Hotline on 13 28 46. 

Contact:  Carolyn Coleman, Senator Minchin's office, 02 6277 7580

                   Russell Edwards, AusIndustry, 02 6213 7330

CMR455-00

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