Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements

On 7 July 2015, the then Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP appointed Dr Ian Watt AO to conduct a review of research policy and funding arrangements (the review). The review was given the task of developing options to strengthen Australia’s research system and encourage greater collaboration between universities and business and other research end users to enable Australia’s high quality research to be translated into economic and social benefits for the nation.

On 6 May 2016, the Government announced it has accepted all the review’s recommendations to strengthen Australia’s research system, improve collaboration between universities and business, and translate research outcomes into economic and social benefits. These actions will build on the measures announced as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda on 7 December 2015.

The review developed recommendations which in broad terms aim to:

  • ensure the quality and excellence of Australian university research and research training
  • allocate funding through Research Block Grants (RBG) in a simpler and more transparent manner
  • provide incentives to universities to increase and improve engagement and collaboration with business and other end-users
  • encourage universities to engage in research commercialisation and knowledge transfer with business and the broader community, including through funding incentives and a focus on more effective management of intellectual property (IP)
  • ensure that competitive grant criteria recognise the quality of the proposal and support the opportunities for commercialisation and collaboration with business.

As part of the review consultation process, universities were invited to submit case studies to highlight particularly productive relationships they had cultivated with end users of research.

The report of the review and the volume of case studies have been released.


The review conducted a range of consultations and roundtables with universities, research bodies and institutes, business and industry leaders and government representatives over a period of four months to inform the recommendations of the review. These have been included in the appendix of the report.


The issues paper for the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements was released on 11 August 2015. The submission process sought input on the issues and proposals raised in the discussion paper and closed on 18 September 2015.

Working group

Dr Watt was assisted in this Review by a small working group of experts with knowledge of the higher education and research sector, comprising:

  • Professor Peter Coaldrake AO, Vice-Chancellor of the Queensland University of Technology,
  • Professor Edwina Cornish AO, Provost and Senior Vice-President of Monash University,
  • Professor Sandra Harding, Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University,
  • Mr Conor King, Executive Director of the Innovative Research Universities group, and
  • Professor Steven Schwartz AM, Executive Director of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and former Vice Chancellor of Macquarie, Brunel, and Murdoch universities.