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Wednesday, 25 September 2002
Page: 4861

Senator MINCHIN (Minister for Finance and Administration) (3:06 PM) —Mr President, Senator George Campbell asked me a question yesterday about the Innovation Access Program and I part-answered that question after question time. I now have some further detail which, given its length, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows

The Innovation Access Program (IAccP) is part of the Government's innovation package Backing Australia's Ability aimed at promoting innovation and competitiveness by improving Australia's access to global, leading-edge research and technologies and facilitate their uptake by Australian firms, particularly by small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and researchers.

The program seeks to address the commercial reality that:

· over 98% of innovations and technologies are developed overseas;

· markets for commercialisation of new technology are often global; and

· for Australian firms to access these innovations and compete in these markets and international supply chains they need international linkages, access and support to facilitate technology transfers.

The IAccP is a competitive program that provides limited matching funding to Australian firms and technology transfer agents to facilitate the transfer of overseas innovation and technological developments to Australia for the benefit of Australian industry and the national economy.

By their very nature projects for the transfer of global technology to Australia at times include developing strategic relationships with multinational companies. In the Innovation Access Program this is likely to involve contacts with multinational firms either as:

· sources of technology of value to Australian firms;

· access points for international networks of research and application specialists; and/or

· lead contracts in international supply chains.

The IAccP has involved multinational firms based in Australia as grant recipients or participants in projects. However multinational firms cannot use grant funds for activities of a distinctly commercial or proprietary nature for the applicant.

Examples of projects that include multinational firms include technology access missions, technology integrations, national diffusion networks and international alliances.

In January 2002 the Collaborative Health Informatics Centre was awarded a grant of $8,600 to coordinate a best practice study mission which included visits to leading North American firms in health informatics. Each of the 11 participants in this mission paid for their own travel expenses. Funding was specifically provided for the travel costs of the coordinator of the group and for reporting costs associated with the mission. As part of the original application and the expressions of interest for this mission a representative of Microsoft was nominated to be part of the mission. Ultimately the group that travelled did not include a representative of Microsoft however the group did visit the Microsoft centre in the USA and this was considered to have been one of the highlights of the visit.

Information provided to Senator Campbell for the June Senate Estimates, based on the application, indicated that a Microsoft nominee would participate in the mission. The subsequent final report confirmed the Microsoft nominee did not participate, but the mission group did visit Microsoft in Seattle.

The CRC for Advanced Composite Structures proposed that Australia be represented by Hawker de Havilland and the CRC to participate in the international SAMPE technical conference this year in Seattle USA. They met with researchers of Boeing and other international researchers. The project received $23 052 through the Innovation Access Program for six participants (four from Hawker de Havilland and 2 for the CRC)—funding supported direct travel costs, registration costs. Outcomes from the project include:

· further development of international collaborative research programs, inter-company technology transfer agreements and contributions to the ongoing development of world leading composite research within Australia;

· increased technology transfer to Australia through the project participants and to associated industry and institutional linkages including RMIT and Monash, Melbourne and Swinburne universities; and

· improvement in Australia's Reinforced Thermoplastic Laminate Composite capability to position us to meet international demand for such aerospace components.

Project outcomes have been transferred to the wider industry through the CRC.