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Budget responds to industry call for R&D support.



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Media Release The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

15 May 2003 03/089

BUDGET RESPONDS TO INDUSTRY CALL FOR R&D SUPPORT

Australian business research and development is the major beneficiary of the industry portfolio budget announced yesterday - and that must come as a mighty shock to Labor’s policy-phobic Innovation spokesman.

Tuesday’s budget revealed that direct funding for R&D in the pharmaceuticals sector has been doubled under a new scheme, the Pharmaceuticals Partnerships Program (P3), which will take over from the existing program in 2004.

Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has announced that P3 will provide $150 million over five years in grants that are deliberately aimed at encouraging local research and development partnerships.

“P3 is a competitive entry program, based on the best features of the R&D component of the present program and designed to drive strategic partnerships within the local industry,” said Mr Macfarlane.

It’s a change of focus for the pharmaceutical assistance scheme which is a response to what the industry is looking for - encouragement of local innovation and growth of jobs.

“Labor claims to take the high road to encouraging research and development. But will their Innovation spokesman be getting off his high horse to applaud this very definite commitment to industry and innovation in Australia?” he said.

Also announced in Tuesday’s budget was an additional $41 million for the highly popular R&D Start program. This will guarantee that the program can continue unhindered providing support for three year projects to be finished in 2007.

“Hundreds of companies, and their smart ideas, are assisted by this grants and loans program every year. About $200 million went out last year to projects that are ready to leap off the page but need a hand getting to the prototype or testing phase,” said Mr Macfarlane.

Grants just announced include $1.1 million to Melbourne company OMC International who’ve developed a unique GPS navigation system which attaches to the keel of ships.

“R&D Start gives the Australian spirit of innovation a chance to take off locally and test its wings in global markets. That’s why innovation is a cornerstone of the Howard Government’s industry policy,” he said.

Media Contact: Kirsty Boazman, (02) 6277 7580, Mobile: 0412 171 444 Email: kirsty.boazman@industry.gov.au Web site: www.industry.gov.au

CMR 03-104