Research and development by small to medium (SME) businesses aligned with key academic research initiatives will be a strategy to boost the national gross domestic product (GDP).

An innovative team up between MTPConnect (MedTech and Pharma Growth Centre) and APR.Intern will strengthen research translation between Australia’s medtech, biotech and pharmaceutical sectors.

The MTPConnect consortium will work with APR.Intern to generate much-needed resources and funding to increase workforce capabilities in the industry skills area.

The partnership will see MTPConnect’s REDI initiative provide 20 businesses within industry the opportunity to take on a PhD student through a short-term research placement.

The business will also receive an additional $10,000 subsidy to ease the cost.

Addressing a webinar among key experts, APR.Intern said the initiative is in line with the push by government and the business sector towards a more complex yet agile economy.

“Collaboration is the foundation for innovation and the challenge for research translation is how to facilitate engagement between industry commercialisation, the SME and the capacity for academic research,” APR.Intern told the webinar.

“There’s often no history of interaction there, so there are many different ways that can happen, and collaboration can bring many positive outcomes for the economy.”

Facilitated by APR.Intern, the PhD research placements enable innovative businesses to engage with Australia’s brightest emerging research talent.

APR.Intern, which has a long history with research commercialisation, says for universities, the placements support the development of an industry-ready PhD-trained workforce.

Addressing the webinar, CSIRO engagement expert James Robinson said a lot of thinking must continue to happen “towards business models and the language of research capability, and what this means. This may mean working with entrepreneurial types of institutes or business and research precincts, and then moving towards collaboration.”

Benefits of the internship are many: the business gains access to PhD-level research expertise and retains intellectual property, while students gain valuable field experience.

Businesses can also benefit from APR.Intern’s Australian Government 50 per cent rebate. Together with the $10,000 MTPConnect REDI subsidy, this covers the entire net cost of a full-time three-month research project.

The report recently handed down by the National COVID-19 Commission Taskforce called for Australian manufacturing to triple its GDP contributions. It’s widely believed that more investment in R&D among Australian businesses would help reach this goal.

It’s hoped that by providing businesses with a cost-effective way to generate that innovation, the new REDI initiative will act as a step towards that outcome.

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