Consultation opens on reforming research block grants, to boost collaboration


A new consultation reforming the research block grant (RBG) funding framework, to increase collaboration between universities and industry, is open under the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

The proposed reforms are seeking to break down barriers to collaboration, differences in skill sets, regulation and intellectual property, and it is designed so that universities and industry can access valuable benefits of engagement and partnering.

RBGs form a critical part of Australia’s research funding system by ensuring the research pipeline, from basic research to innovation, is supported. It ensures that universities receive support for basic research, feeding high-quality and innovative research into the research pipeline. Because RBG funding is flexible, it can be invested in the translational and commercialisation phases of R&D.

The research block grant funding framework reform is one element of the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion University Research Commericalisation (URC) Action Plan, released in February 2022

The consultation paper outlines the proposed implementation approach, transitional arrangements and discussion questions. The Department seeks to understand from industry:

  • How industry decides which universities to engage with for research and development and what metrics or rankings play a role in this decision-making process;
  • If industry is more likely to collaborate with a university that ranks highly in research quality;
  • Indicators, such as ERA rankings;
  • Additional metrics, rankings or data that would be useful for industry in deciding which universities to engage with; and,
  • If the proposed ‘government’ and ‘industry’ funding drivers and changes to the RBG funding framework have the effect of increasing universities' collaboration with organisations.

AusBiotech is seeking member feedback to by 5:00pm AEST on 6 May 2022.