Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Two Billion More Reasons to Collaborate

By Ian Dagley

With global population expected to grow by two billion, even greater collaboration between researchers and business will be needed to satisfy the world’s food, energy and other needs.

Dr Ian Dagley FTSE has been the CEO of the CRC for Polymers since 1995. In this role he instigates collaborative projects from discussions with companies and researchers, and is closely involved in all aspects of the CRC including its research and commercialisation activities. Participants in the CRC include BASF, BlueScope Steel, Integrated Packaging, Mesoblast, Virbac, 11 universities, CSIRO and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

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The forecast growth in the global population and demographic changes present directly, and indirectly, many major challenges that need to be addressed by advances in science and technology.

For example, there are predictions that by 2050 the population will increase by 2.3 billion, the demand for energy will be more than 50% higher, new approaches to health care will be required because the number of pensioners will exceed the number of children, and agricultural production will need to be 60% higher than for 2005–07.

The multi-dimensional nature of these emerging challenges will necessitate even greater collaboration between researchers and business in order to find better technological solutions that translate into new products and services. There is also a strong case for greater financial support from governments for those activities that seek to deliver substantially better economic, social and environmental outcomes.

Despite the significant benefits of collaboration, the Australian Innovation Systems Report 2012 found that Australian businesses of all sizes remain poor collaborators, and that they are ranked in the lower third of OECD countries for collaborations between businesses and higher education or government research institutions.

Of the Australian government programs promoting collaboration between businesses and industry, the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.