Manufacturing R and D needs strong focus: Chief Scientist

Australia's Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, spoke of the importance of linking business to researchers in an interview yesterday.

Chubb, speaking to ABC's The Business, discussed his work consulting with those in industry to prepare a series of "breakthrough actions" for the prime minister. The advice is aimed at promoting linkages between researchers and business.

"What we are doing is we're trying to find out what the business world thinks it needs from our public support of science and technology in Australia," Chubb told The Business.

The scientist suggested that a major manufacturing hub would rapidly benefit the economy.

"Well I agree that manufacturing is an area where we should have a strong focus and it's probably also true that if you were looking at how you would make the biggest possible splash in the shortest possible time, then you would build something like a substantial hub that looked beyond auto, but looked at manufacturing as a whole."

Industry hubs – citing Macquarie University and hearing implant maker Cochlear – were important, but there were other ways to bring enterprise and researchers together as well.

"Most of the research that gets done in Australia gets done in our universities," said Chubb. "Overwhelmingly the bulk of it gets done in our universities.

"And so making the effective bridge between enterprises and the academic researchers, the researchers who are looking at problems that have real spin-off benefits, but mightn't realise it, because of where they are and why they started doing that research and how even with a little bit of tinkering it might actually solve a problem that's stopping somebody, some organisation, some enterprise exporting more."