Cochlear urges Government to scrap R&D Tax cap


Cochlear says it is encouraged by the Government's stated focus on innovation but called for the recently imposed cap on the R&D Tax Incentive to be scrapped.

Speaking at the company's Annual General Meeting, Chairman Rick Holliday-Smith said it was "encouraged by the Federal Government’s new conversation around the importance of innovation in order to drive long term growth for Australia and support Australian jobs."

"Cochlear’s experience shows what an effective interplay between commerce, academia and government can achieve," said Mr Holliday-Smith.

"We would recommend the Government to reward appropriately defined innovative companies for their incremental R&D spend by increasing the R&D concession for additional R&D expenditure. Specifically, we think the current $100 million cap on R&D spend qualifying for the current incentive should be raised for advanced manufacturing companies."

The cap was imposed early this year as part of cuts to the R&D Tax Incentive. Another change, cutting the incentive by 1.5 per cent, has so far failed to navigate the parliamentary approval process.

According to the Cochlear Chairman, the company is now, "...bumping into this artificial cap and there is an incentive to perform additional R&D abroad where we qualify for similar or even enhanced incentives."

He also backed collaboration between the private sector and universities, pointing to Cochlear's successful linkages with Macquarie University, including its location within the 'Hearing Hub'.

"This is a unique alliance of over 2,500 academics, businesses and hearing health professionals. It is world class and should be a competitive advantage for Australia.

"Cochlear strongly urges all parties to continue to strengthen and develop these alliances. We need to ensure there is focussed and scaled effort. It should mean Government oriented funding, including into tertiary education and research, should have a clear objective of creating collaborative centres of excellence," said Mr Holliday-Smith.

"It should also have a clear objective of keeping as much of the ensuing value and work opportunity in Australia. This latter goal is very challenging but also important. Cochlear believes the development of globally competitive advanced manufacturing capabilities is possible in Australia, but there needs to be continual focus and effort to create it, and then to make sure it stays in Australia into the longer term.

"This must involve Government establishing and maintaining a sufficiently competitive framework from a global perspective, especially given the effort being made overseas to maintain, enhance, develop and attract these types of activities," he added.