AGRICULTURE has been the biggest beneficiary of the government funded Co-operative Research Centre program.This is according to a new report on its economic and other impacts.
The estimated direct economic impact on the sector is $6.15 billion, which takes in the 21 year life of the program so far, and projections to 2017, according to the report by The Allen Consulting Group launched last night by Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans, The Australian reports.
The estimate for the services sector is $5.7bn, for mining is $1.5bn and for manufacturing is $1bn.
It also gauged the educational value of the CRC program as measured by the number of research postgraduate students it has supported, which is about 4400 between 1991-92 and 2009-10.
Based on Insight Economics estimates from 2006, which assigned a premium of about $37,000 per annum for each research postgraduate in Australia, the total is $163 million.
The HES reported yesterday that the headline figure from the impact analysis was a three dollar return for every dollar of taxpayers money invested. It estimated the economic and other impacts of the program totalled $14.5bn, including $8.6bn from 1991-2012.
There are currently 37 CRCs but there have been 190 over the life of the program, which has received $3.4bn in federal government funding.
The report also estimates that the CRC program has contributed about 0.03 percentage points of GDP annually over its life.
CRC Association chief executive Tony Peacock told the HES the study contained "some really important lessons''.
"The long-term nature of CRC collaboration is a key factor in achieving such good impacts,'' Professor Peacock said.
"That's something we should try and extend to every part of the Australian innovation system whenever it is practical. Secondly, planning for impact works -- end users of research know what they want and their input increases impact.''
Full story, The Australian.