Australian budget a boon for innovation – scientists

The Australian budget for 2009-2010 has served up around A$3 billion for innovation schemes and boosting science infrastructure in a funding package Australian scientists have labelled “historic” and “unprecedented”.

Below are outlined the key science and technology related areas receiving attention in the budget and scroll and click here for reaction from Australian scientists gathered by the Australian Science Media Centre.

– Science
The A$1.1 billion  new “super science” initiative will fund research in space, marine and climate and “future industries”.

A$387.7m will go towards a state-of-the-art marine research vessel to replace the 38-year-old RV Southern Surveyor; extensions of the Integrated Marine Observing System network and new tropical marine infrastructure investments at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

New facilities for cutting-edge biotechnology, nanotechnology and ICT research projects, including development of a European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Laboratory at Monash University will be funded to the tune of A$504m.

There’s an extra A$25.2 million for Australian-Antarctic scientific research, A$80 million ear-marked for a Square Kilometre Array science centre in Perth and A$196 million to set up a “Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute”to help commercialise research.

– R&D tax credit

A A$1.4 billion R&D tax credit scheme will double the level of assistance available under the current R&D tax concession scheme but will not be available until 2010-11. The new tax credit provides a 45% refundable credit on R&D spend for firms with an annual turnover of less than A$20 million,

– Education
A commitment of A$5.3 billion planned over a six year period for tertiary education, research and innovation. That includes A$491 million to create 50,000 additional university places by 2013.

– Climate change

A total of A$4.5 billion (A$3.5 billion in newly announced initiatives) will be set aside for the Government’s clean energy initiative “to reduce carbon emissions and stimulate economic activity in a sector that will support thousands of new green-collar jobs”. The total includes A$2 billion for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and A$1.4 billion for solar energy projects. A new body “Renewables Australia” will be established with A$100 million funding and tasked with developing renewable technologies. Some A$4 billion will go into energy efficiency measures for homes.

– Communications
An initial investment of A$4.7billion has been set aside in the budget as the first stage of the A$43 billion superfast broadband network.