Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Backing Australia's Ability: Building Future Through Science and Innovation.

Download PDFDownload PDF



I am delighted to announce a major boost to science and innovation in Australia through a $5.3 billion package that continues and strengthens the successful Backing Australia’s Ability programme.

This new package takes our 10 year investment in Backing Australia’s Ability to $8.3 billion and total Australian Government funding for science and innovation to around $52 billion over 10 years.

By investing in science and innovation we are investing in Australia’s social and economic prosperity.

Our ability to discover and harness new technologies will be critical to our success as a nation. Turning Australian ideas into jobs and wealth here in Australia is one of the keys to our future.

This runs all the way from supporting basic research, applying that research to current and future challenges, turning great ideas into commercial products and developing the skills of our children to ensure a new generation of scientists.

Backing Australia’s Ability - Building our Future through Science and Innovation targets the three key elements of the innovation system.

It will strengthen Australia’s ability to generate ideas and undertake research by boosting funding to the CSIRO, the Australian Research Council, research infrastructure, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the National Information and Communications Technology Centre of Excellence.

It will accelerate the commercialisation of ideas through a new $1 billion Commercial Ready progamme and a doubling of funding for the Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) programme.

It will assist in the development of skills through a new teaching initiative to boost innovation, science, technology and maths teaching in our schools, maintain the 2000 extra university places each year in ICT, Maths and Science introduced under Backing Australia’s Ability and continue support for the successful Questacon Smart Moves.


Key new measures funded under the package include:

• $305 million extra for the CSIRO National Research Flagships. This brings the CSIRO into the Backing Australia’s Ability programme for the first time and recognises the effort by the CSIRO to align its large scale collaborative research programmes with the national research priorities;

• a new $1 billion Commercial Ready programme that merges a number of existing measures to create a one-stop-shop for businesses to access innovation support; • $200 million extra for the National Health and Medical Research Council to assist independent medical research institutions; • $542 million for a National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy to provide

world-class infrastructure to our researchers; • $38.8 million for a new Maths, Science and Innovation Teaching initiative that will involve research bodies and undergraduates in primary and secondary school classes; and • $7.2 million to co-ordinate and focus research in support of Australia’s counter-terrorism


Significant measures that are continued or expanded from the original Backing Australia’s Ability package include:

• $100 million extra for the Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) programme that has already assisted around 900 companies to get new products to market;

• An extra $1.19 billion to maintain the Australian Research Council National Competitive Grants at peak levels; • $554 million for the Research Infrastructure Block Grants; • $251 million for the National ICT Australia initiative to create a world class research

centre in Australia focussing on information and communications technology; • Continuation of the new R & D tax concessions introduced under Backing Australia’s Ability; • $57.9 million for Australia’s Biotechnology Centre of Excellence, the National Stem Cell

Centre; and • $65 million extra for Co-operative Research Centres which will have a stronger commercial focus.

Australians have always been resourceful and innovative. Now we are building a world class innovation system.

By building on the successful first three years of Backing Australia’s Ability and announcing this new package two years before the initial funding for Backing Australia’s Ability runs out we are providing certainty and continuity for researchers, universities and business.

6 May 2004