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National roadmap for research infrastructure released: Nine priority areas identified

The Australian Government released the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap on Friday, 12 May, identifying priorities essential for building Australian research excellence over the coming decade.

The Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, jointly released the Roadmap.

Australian Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel led the development of the Roadmap, supported by an expert working group. They named nine focus areas that require ongoing support to ensure Australia maintains its global position:

  • digital data and e‑research platforms
  • platforms for humanities arts and social sciences
  • characterisation (techniques for understanding the properties of materials)
  • advanced fabrication and manufacturing
  • advanced physics and astronomy
  • earth and environmental systems
  • biosecurity
  • complex biology
  • therapeutic development.

QCIF CEO Dr Phil Gurney welcomed the Roadmap’s nine priority areas. “It is especially good to see the priority given to digital data and e-research platforms in the Roadmap. In light of this, QCIF is well positioned to support our member universities, and to service the research community more broadly. We look forward to the rapid development of investment plans that will support the delivery of the Roadmap’s recommendations,” he said.

The priority areas were framed through extensive consultations with key stakeholders including the research community, universities, research institutes, research infrastructure providers, industry, state and federal government.

“The Roadmap provides comprehensive advice and highlights the success of Australia’s current research infrastructure system in supporting research excellence,” said Minister Sinodinos.

The Roadmap’s terms of reference called for a framework to maximise the benefits of existing national research infrastructure built over the last decade and to identify the next generation of research infrastructure that will optimise Australia’s national science and research effort.

The development of special investment plans fell beyond the scope of the Roadmap.

“The Roadmap made a number of recommendations that the Government will consider over the coming months,” Minister Birmingham said. “Key to our consideration will be the development of a research infrastructure investment plan to develop a broad understanding of the range and scale of the infrastructure required for the future so that Australia continues to deliver cutting-edge research outcomes."

Minister Sinodinos added: “The plan will inform how we approach future investment in national research infrastructure and equipment needs across the sector consistent with the 2016 Roadmap, including in the publicly funded research agencies. It will be developed in consultation with Innovation and Science Australia and the Commonwealth Science Council.”