Building regional research capacity: The Northern Research Futures Collaborative Research Network

Building regional research capacity: The Northern Research Futures Collaborative Research Network Book Section

Leading from the North: Rethinking Northern Australia Development

  • Author(s): Cram, Lawrence
  • Secondary Author(s): Wallace, Ruth, Harwood, Sharon, Gerritsen, Rolf, Prideaux, Bruce, Brewer, Tom, Rosenman, Linda, Dale, Alan
  • Published: 2021
  • Publisher: ANU Press
  • ISBN: (print): 9781760464424 (online): 9781760464431

Abstract: Australia’s Collaborative Research Networks (CRNs) are a modest program (A$81.1 million for 15 projects each over three to five years) of publicly funded research, development and extension (RD&E) designed to support relatively youthful universities with rapidly developing research capacity (Department of Education and Training, 2015). For socio-historical reasons, many youthful Australian universities are located in Australian regional settings (including 60 per cent of CRN-eligible universities). This chapter features the Northern Research Futures CRN (NRF-CRN) to show how the CRN program has supported RD&E capacity building in regional settings. We propose that the CRN program fortuitously positioned Charles Darwin University as a well-qualified and well-prepared provider of RD&E capabilities that can support the re-invigorated government agenda to attend to the development of Australia’s north. The chapter argues that these capabilities have matured as the result of 1) an application of well-established policy drivers for public funding of RD&E that has been 2) applied to university-based RD&E and 3) aimed towards the needs of regional socioeconomic development of Australia’s north through 4) social science using a diverse menu of methods, team formation and rich networking. Public funding of research—how much and to what ends—emerged as a preoccupation of policymakers and research communities some half a century ago owing to the confluence of 1) clear opportunities to promote the protection and/or welfare of people and communities through the application of de-militarised scientific and project management methods forged in war and 2) advances in public financial systems that generated budgets and released funds for research and related activities (Bush, 1945; Snow, 1962). Since that time, many studies have explored the links between RD&E and prosperity in firms, industries, regions and nations (Aghion & Howitt, 2008; Geisler, 2000). Although the linkages are many and complex, the evidence for their potency is compelling. Accordingly, many national and supra-national governments now establish aspirational targets for the proportion of gross domestic product that is allocated to research and development, targets for the public and private funding components of this proportion and, in many cases, priorities for selecting fields and modalities of research focus. Public funding of research in relation to regional research capacity is often viewed as a particularly important part of this policy arena.

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Cram, Lawrence, 2021, Building regional research capacity: The Northern Research Futures Collaborative Research Network, Book Section, viewed 25 July 2024,

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