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News from Science & Technology Australia

2 Dec 2022 5:33 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

Science & Technology Australia President Professor Mark Hutchinson and I were delighted to attend Industry & Science Minister Ed Husic’s landmark National Press Club address this week. On the eve of introducing legislation to create the new $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, the Minister laid out his vision for an Australia that makes things - by applying cutting-edge science and technology in next-generation advanced manufacturing. Consultation is open on the fund’s seven priority areas for investment. He declared Australia must invest threefold: in our human capital; in backing Australian ideas; and in our future technological capabilities. And on longstanding ambitions to boost R&D investment in this country, he vowed: “I am picking up that torch”.

The Parliamentary Friends of Science - from right across the breadth of Parliament - were out in force this week. Science & Technology Australia organised a powerful event on clean, green energy technologies for our co-chairs, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews. In a hectic final sitting week, 16 MPs and Senators - including Housing Minister Julie Collins, Minister Husic and Shadow Science Minister Paul Fletcher - heard from leading clean energy experts Professor Lachlan Blackhall of The Australian National University; Director of storEnergy and Deakin University Professor Maria Forsyth; ARC Future Fellow, Superstar of STEM and hydrogen expert Dr Jessica Allen; and Original Power Executive Director and Yorta Yorta descendant Karrina Nolan. We thank our friends at the Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering and the Australian Academy of Science for their valued support. A huge hat tip to STA Events Director Lucy Guest and the STA staff team on a stellar event. 

Education Minister Jason Clare yesterday introduced legislation to create the powerful new research translation and commercialisation fund for which STA campaigned for many years. The bill enables funding and governance for Australia’s Economic Accelerator fund. This is an exciting development that creates a new stream of investment into promising innovations at proof-of-concept or proof-of-scale stage, with a ‘fast-fail’ risk appetite. His second reading speech lays out more detail.  

In exciting news for the science and technology sector, Professor Sharath Sriram is now President-elect of Science & Technology Australia. Elected at our AGM last week, Sharath is a research rockstar and connector of commercialisation. His ability to understand industry partners’ needs, and connect them with researchers who can find solutions to their problems, is second to none. We are thrilled that he will lead the organisation when Professor Mark Hutchinson’s term finishes in November 2023. 

At the AGM, we recapped the year in our annual report and published our annual progress report on our First Nations partnerships and Reconciliation Action Plan.

This week, consultation opened on the Universities Accord’s Terms of Reference. STA will make a submission - responses are due by 19 December - outlining our ideas for the sorts of data and analysis the panel should commission to help inform its thinking. The policy terrain for this review is wide-ranging, and this process will have a vast impact on the sector’s future. We will keep our members informed every step of the way.

The Australian Research Council has streamlined the National Interest Test processes on research grants following consultations with the sector. It is now simpler with clearer instructions. The NIT statements will now be signed off by the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research at each university - and the NIT would go to the expert peer review panels as part of their assessments from the outset. It would not be amended by the ARC. The announcement is here.  
Fabulous to see former STA President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie beside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this week for the latest meeting of the National Science and Technology Council. The Council is an all-star squad of Australia’s outstanding science and technology leaders including Jeremy, Professor Genevieve Bell AO, Professor Debra Henly, Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt AC, Professor Fiona Wood, AM, and Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger AC, with Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley as Executive Officer to provide advice for government policy and priorities. 

It was great to celebrate the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science back in person in Canberra with a bumper crowd. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the gathering: “Investing in science is investing in our future”. 

A huge congratulations to the inspiring scientists recognised with these prestigious honours: Professor Trevor McDougall AC from UNSW (the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science); Adjunct Professor Alison Todd and Dr Elisa Mokany from SpeeDx (Prize for Innovation); Dr Nick Cutmore, Dr James Tickner and Dirk Treasure from Chrysos Corporation and CSIRO (Prize for Innovation); Professor Si Ming Man of ANU (Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year); Dr Adele Morrison of ANU (Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year); and Associate Professor Brett Hallam of UNSW and Dr Pip Karoly of the University of Melbourne and Seer Medical (Prize for New Innovators). 

Yesterday, we graduated the constellation of 2021 Superstars of STEM amid a sea of celebrations on social media of these inspiring women in STEM. It was a joy to see them sharing countless examples of how this acclaimed program has been a game-changer to boost their media profiles, confidence, career-acceleration, and peer support network to spur their success. You may be in the Superstars of STEM program for two years, but to us, you're Superstars for life!  

Finally, congratulations to the first 50 scholarship recipients announced last week in the Elevate: Boosting women in STEM program - funded by the Australian Government and delivered by ATSE. Science & Technology Australia is a supporting partner on this program. We are absolutely delighted for the amazing scientists and technologists that received their great news of a scholarship last week.  

Until next time, 

Misha Schubert 
CEO, Science & Technology Australia 



  • The Universities Accord consultation process has begun. The Panel is due to deliver a final report by December 2023, and an interim report by June 2023. The Department of Education has called for feedback on the priorities outlined in the Terms of Reference. Submissions to this first stage of consultation are due by 19 December. 
  • The Department of Industry, Science and Resources is consulting on the National Reconstruction Fund program design. Submissions close 3 February 2023.  
  • The Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment is conducting an inquiry into the issue of increasing disruption in Australian classrooms. Submissions due by 31 March 2023.
  • The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is consulting on amendments to the Export Control Rules 2021. Submissions by 20 January 2023. 

Further information: STA Director of Policy and Engagement Sarah Tynan.


  • The Taronga Conservation Society are launching HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program 2023 and are looking for the next round of founders and eco-startups or a brilliant idea to support wildlife or the environment. The HATCH program provides $25,000 value in support for each team, and the chance to receive $50,000 funding.
  • Grants are available for the Threatened and migratory species fisheries bycatch mitigation program for projects that will support sustainable fisheries. Applications close 23 January 2023. 
  • Applications are open for National Science Week grants. Applications close 15 December.
  • AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship applications are open, closing 13 January 2023. 


We are delighted to welcome Sparklabs Cultiv8 and Cultiv8 Funds Management into our STA community. Sparklabs Cultiv8 is a powerful food tech accelerator developing agribusiness worldwide to secure our food future. Cultiv8 Funds Management is modernising our Australian food tech sector through a tailored, sustainable investment fund that enhances our food supply chains. 

We are thrilled to welcome Monash Data Futures Institute (MDFI) as STA’s newest members. Monash’s DFI brings world class AI and data scientists together to solve some of the most pressing challenges of our time. 

STA delivers strong benefits to members, including discounted professional services via our Member Benefits Program. More details here.

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