The Composition and Productivity of Australian Cooperative Research Centres, with Emphasis on their Participation in Biotechnology, Regional and Sustainable Development

By Alan R. Howgrave-Graham.

Published by The Technology Collection

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More than a decade ago, the Australian Commonwealth Government introduced and funded a system of Cooperative Research Centres (CRC’s) to bring scientists from universities, CSIRO, other government institutions, industry and private sector organizations from throughout Australia together. These CRC’s were to work on specific research and development projects that would benefit from the critical mass of effort. In 2002 there were 65 CRC’s in diverse fields but by 2009 there were 49 listed on their dedicated web page, each with its specific R&D focus. For this paper, each of these CRC’s (and each of two university-based centres with a sustainability focus) was contacted to determine: its participants; its basic and applied research output; whether it is involved in biotechnology projects; whether clustering is used to enhance knowledge transfer through geographical proximity; and whether it is involved in regional and/or sustainable development. The response rate was 37% and the aggregated results are discussed. An additional questionnaire with open-ended questions was distributed to senior members of local industries, NGO’s, government officials, and a local university in Gippsland, Victoria to further investigate collaboration for regional and sustainable development on a local basis. This questionnaire served the additional purpose of testing two previously published models on knowledge flows between such organizations for basic and applied research in Australia. The responses to both of these questionnaires are collated in this paper to depict the drivers and level of innovation in Australia as a whole and one regional area as an example.

Keywords: Australian Cooperative Research Centres, Sustainable Development, Regional Development, Biotechnology

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.67-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1016.393KB).

Dr. Alan R. Howgrave-Graham

Lecturer, School of Applied Sciences and Engineering, Monash University, Churchill, Victoria, Australia

Alan Howgrave-Graham spent four years working in hydrological research then pollution control in the Department of Water Affairs in South Africa, before spending twelve years teaching microbiology and doing environmental biotechnology research, mostly at the University of Natal where he completed his PhD. He migrated to Australia in 1999 and started a Doctorate in Business Administration specializing in commercialization of University intellectual property. In 2001 he worked at Curtin University at the Centre of Excellence in Cleaner Production before taking up his current position as microbiology lecturer at Monash University. He has published 17 scientific journal articles on anaerobic and aerobic treatment of wastewaters and the detection of protozoan pathogens in water. More recently he published a book chapter on the implications on biotechnology strategies of the Australian system of cooperative research centres and industrial clusters, as well as journal articles on cleaner production, regional and sustainable development.

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