Labor pitches research and innovation plan

·1-min read

Turning science into jobs is the biggest micro-economic reform challenge facing Australia.

That's the view of Labor deputy leader Richard Marles who will on Wednesday deliver his first major policy speech since the opposition reshuffle in January.

The university maths graduate says research and development funding continues to trend down in Australia, hitting 1.8 per cent of GDP.

"Compare this to South Korea, or Israel, who have kept increasing their R&D spends - and both are now close to five per cent of their GDP," he will say.

"Australia needs public policy to support the skills, research and innovation that will build manufacturing capability.

"We need to reinvigorate research and the commercialisation of public research."

He pointed to tech incubator Cicada Innovations as a good model for the future.

Cicada, which supports more than 40 Australian tech firms, is jointly run by the University of Sydney, University of NSW, UTS and the Australian National University.

"In total it has helped more than 300 companies to raise more than $450 million, file more than 500 patents and trademarks, launch more than 700 deep tech innovations globally, and in the process helped create hundreds of jobs," Mr Marles says.

"Cicada shows that there are examples of clever commercialisation of science happening in Australia."

Mr Marles has been given the broad role of shadow minister for national reconstruction, employment, skills, small business and science.

He says while commercialising science is critical, it will only be possible if more school students and young adults pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and maths.

"The Morrison fairy-tale will quickly evaporate when Australia wakes up in a world for which it is unprepared and we will be leaving the next generation to count the cost."