Desperately seeking innovation nirvana: Australia’s cooperative research centres

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Noble, D, Charles, MB, Keast, R & Kivits, R 2019, 'Desperately seeking innovation nirvana: Australia’s cooperative research centres', Policy Design and Practice, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 15-34.

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The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) program has been one of the flagship programs of Australia’s National Innovation System (NSI) for 30 years. But compared to other members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), statistics indicate that Australia has persistent low levels of business expenditure on research and development (BERD), while World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) reports highlight poor diffusion-of-innovation characteristics. In response to reports of this ilk, and in line with the generally evolving nature of NSIs, the CRC program, and the Australian NSI system, has developed and matured. In a wide-ranging longitudinal review of the program’s policy documentation, we discover that a number of changes have affected the language used within the program, the targeted organizations, and, crucially, the duration of the funding periods. We conclude that, within the confines of the nation’s historical and geographic context, the CRC program exhibits similar characteristics to NSIs elsewhere. In addition, there may be scope for Australia to split the CRC program into separate streams, and that even further support for integration into the Asia-Pacific markets is likely to be beneficial to the diffusion of Australian innovation.

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