2023 Federal Budget: Laying strategic foundations for science

A series of strategic investments in frontier technologies, quality science advice, and growing new science-driven businesses in advanced manufacturing are welcome initiatives in tonight’s Budget.

These investments, coupled with an array of thoughtful major reviews underway, are steadily designing a blueprint for the Government to deliver its 2022 election pledge to deepen R&D investment to tackle Australia’s major economic challenges.

They lay the first building blocks on pledges by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, and Industry & Science Minister Ed Husic to ramp up investments in science.

STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson said the 2023 Budget “lays the foundations for a clever, strategic build-up of Australia’s investments in science in coming years”.

“This Budget starts to roll out National Reconstruction Fund investments and the new Quantum Strategy with smart, deliberate funding to scale up promising early-stage science and tech industries.”

“It highlights how the Government is leveraging its major reviews to inform its strategy, then investing where the expert advice sees the most potential for Australia.”

“Over the next year, major reviews will shape the next phase of the strategy for the Government to start to dramatically escalate public investment in R&D to generate new breakthroughs, grow our STEM-skilled workforce, and secure Australia’s future economic prosperity.”

This Budget invests $392 million in an Industry Growth Program offering grants from $50,000 to $5 million to help small and startup businesses scale to become “National Reconstruction Fund-ready”.

“The Industry Growth Program is a clever way to take more great Australian science and innovation from concept to capability. It has strong potential to enable the best breakthroughs to scale up quickly and turn great ideas into great products, services and income streams for the country.”

The Budget includes $9 million in funding over the next four years for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, Science Meets Parliament, and the Prime Minister’s National Science & Technology Council.

“We’re delighted to see investments in high quality science advice, recognition of science leadership, and the crucial forging of ties between the worlds of science and policymakers through STA’s Science Meets Parliament. For 23 years, this program has enabled Australia to seize crucial opportunities in frontier science and technology to the benefit of our economy and society.”

At a glance: key Budget measures of interest in science and technology include:

  • $392 million for the Industry Growth Program over 4 years (then $65 million a year ongoing) including funding for Industry Growth Centres and a new program offering grants of $50,000 to $5 million to help businesses scale to become NRF-ready.
  • $101 million to grow critical technologies such as quantum and AI including:
    • $20 million over four years to create an Australian Centre for Quantum Growth; and
    • $40 million for a new Critical Technologies Challenge Program – offering grants for Australia’s nascent quantum industry to partner with wider industry to protype new uses of quantum technologies.
  • $60 million over four years for Questacon to enable building and technology upgrades and fund its national touring and schools outreach programs.
  • $9 million to secure funding over the next four years for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, Science Meets Parliament and the Prime Minister’s National Science & Technology Council.
  • $50 million for the National Measurement Institute to upgrade facilities and create new measurement tools for an array of new frontier technologies.
  • Undisclosed funding for ANSTO to upgrade Australia’s nuclear medicine facilities.
  • $163 million over four years (doubling operational funding and ongoing funding thereafter) to the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • A $40 a week boost to Austudy and Youth Allowance and a 15% lift in rent assistance (which will assist STEM students at university with acute cost-of-living pressures)
  • $2 billion for a Hydrogen Headstart program to accelerate the development of hydrogen clean energy technologies.
  • $1.3 billion for a Powering the Regions program for emissions reduction and clean energy development.
  • Establishment of the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation with ongoing funding of $64 million a year.
  • 4000 new university places for students studying degrees to advance Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine capabilities under AUKUS.

About Science & Technology Australia

Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 115,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our flagship programs include Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors.

/Public Release. View in full here.