Strategic alignment and context

This section provides a summary of the strategic drivers underpinning the project concept, design and delivery.

State strategic alignment

» International education and training

International education and training (IET) is the state’s second biggest service export and is vital to the future prosperity of Queensland. In 2015, IET contributed $2.8 billion in export revenue and supported 19,000 jobs in the state. The Queensland Government is committed to growing our IET sector and in 2016 launched the International Education and Training Strategy to Advance Queensland 2016-2026 (IET Strategy).

The HDR1 Experience and Employability Project (E&E Project) was selected for implementation by the Queensland International Education and Training Partnership Fund (IET Partnership Fund). This is a key enabling initiative within the IET Strategy. The IET Partnership Fund offers $1.2 million annually to fund eligible consortia to deliver projects aligned with the IET Strategy goals and leverage greater investment across the sector. The fund is managed by the International Education and Training Unit (IETU) at Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ).

The IET Strategy is supported by $25.3 million over the next 5 years and details 36 specific initiatives aimed at supporting international education and training in Queensland. It focuses on four strategic imperatives, all of which are addressed by the E&E Project:

  • Promoting Queensland Internationally;
  • Enhancing the Student Experience;
  • Strengthening our Regions; and
  • Connecting the Industry.

The IET Strategy also leverages from other Queensland Government policies including Advancing Tourism 2016-20: Growing Queensland Jobs, Advance Queensland, and Advancing education: An action plan for education in Queensland.

The E&E Project also complements and builds upon an existing IET funded project: the Cairns International Student Local Engagement Project which ensures that Cairns provides international students with the most positive and rewarding experience. One of this project’s key strategies is to establish a Student Hub in Cairns for international students, and there are similar IET funded Student Hubs under development in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Furthermore, this project aligns with regional international education strategies and goals for Queensland, Brisbane and the Gold Coast which aspire to grow international student enrolments, increase market share, and enhance the student experience. For example, the Study Gold Coast Strategic Plan 2016-2020 outlines a 10-point plan which includes a strategy focused on student employability and workforce development.

» Trade and Investment

The Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017– 2022 (TIS Strategy) was released in April 2017 to drive local jobs and the Queensland economy. It is a plan for cooperation between governments, business, educational institutions and local councils to create jobs for Queenslanders.

By improving the experience for domestic and international HDR candidates in Queensland and enhancing innovation and competitiveness among Queensland businesses through increased connections with researchers, the E&E Project addresses the vision of the TIS Strategy to:

“Position Queensland as Australia’s most innovative and dynamic trading economy – a magnet for global investment.”

» Advance Queensland

The E&E Project also addresses the premise of Advance Queensland, the Queensland Government’s $500 million initiative that aims to:

“Position Queensland as a place where entrepreneurs, industry, universities and government collaborate to turn great ideas into commercial products and businesses that create jobs.”

This initiative is the Queensland Government’s innovation agenda. It encompasses a suite of programs designed to create the knowledge-based jobs of the future, drive productivity improvements, and promote the state as an attractive investment destination with a strong innovation and entrepreneurial culture.

The following programs from the Advance Queensland initiative demonstrate the value of researchers, knowledge application, and research commercialisation:

Business Development Fund
The Business Development Fund helps to turn ideas into reality with co-investment in Queensland businesses at the forefront of commercialising ground-breaking research or innovations. Queensland businesses can apply for $125,000 to $2.5 million in funding to commercialise research, an innovative idea, or an innovative product or service.

Commercialisation Partnership Program
The Commercialisation Partnership Program places Queensland innovators in Chinese incubators to collaborate with global expertise, access top facilities and accelerate commercial outcomes.

Founders’ Fellowships
Founders’ Fellowships supports researchers, scientists and clinicians to develop their innovations into practical commercial outcomes, and to access appropriate support.

Global Partnership Awards
The Global Partnership Awards supports collaboration between Queensland and international innovators by offering graduates, researchers and entrepreneurs the chance to learn directly from overseas successes.

The Global Partnership Awards include:

  • The Innovation and Market Insight program – designed to enable Queensland startups, business leaders, investors and support organisations to undertake accelerated learning by engaging with world leading companies, venture capital and angel investors, accelerator programs and startup systems.
  • The International Innovation Partnerships program – will establish medium to long-term strategic relationships with global research or innovation organisations. The program provides opportunities to build joint investments with leading global research institutions or universities to support collaborative research and development.

Innovation Partnerships
Innovation Partnerships positions Queensland as a global innovation hub by providing grants of up to $1.5 million for Queensland research organisations to collaborate with industry on research projects.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships program builds collaboration between universities and small businesses by providing up to $50,000 funding to small businesses to employ a university graduate to work on an innovative project.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

The Small Business Innovation Research program supports innovators to develop and test new, commercially viable solutions to specific Queensland Government challenges.

National strategic alignment

» Innovation

Innovation has been identified by the Australian Government as essential in creating more economic and social opportunities for Australians by 2030. With the resources investment boom easing and our population ageing, Australia needs to find new sources of growth and improve productivity to maintain our standard of living.

Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation is the Australian Government’s strategic plan to accelerate innovation, science, and research, and to optimise Australia’s innovation system until 2030. Released in February 2018, the Plan builds on the findings of the 2016 Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System. It makes 30 recommendations for governments to help achieve this goal and has identified five urgent areas for action: (1) education, (2) industry, (3) government, (4) research and development, and (5) culture and ambition. The E&E Project addresses one of these five urgent imperatives:

“Improve research and development effectiveness by increasing translation and commercialisation of research”.

Other strategic opportunities in the 2030 Plan that are addressed by the E&E Project include:

  • Ensuring Australia’s ongoing prosperity by stimulating high-growth firms and improving productivity;
  • Improving access to global talent pools by increasing the profile of Australia as an attractive destination for business builders; and
  • Promoting greater diversity in the research and innovation workforce.

» Knowledge transfer

The 2016 Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System (ISRS) highlighted that although Australia excels in knowledge creation, there is substantial evidence that we are poor at translating and commercialising our strong research base.

This finding was also highlighted in the 2015 National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), the Australian Government’s flagship innovation and science policy that sets out Australia’s vision for economic prosperity:

“Australia’s rate of collaboration between industry and researchers (at 2-3%) is currently the lowest in the OECD. Furthermore, Australian businesses do not have as much internal research expertise as key comparator countries either. At 43%, Australia’s proportion of researchers employed in business is significantly lower than countries such as Germany (56%), South Korea (79%) and Israel (84%).”

Despite ranking last in terms of industry-university collaboration, Australia ranks 11 out of 34 for population per thousand aged 25-64 with a doctorate qualification and 8 out of 36 for highly cited (top 1% in the world, all disciplines) publications per million population.

Maximising the value of links between industry and HDR candidates1 will become even more important over the next decade as the demand for research qualified workers and ageing population impact workforce availability. Estimates suggest 1.3 million graduates with postgraduate qualifications will need to enter Australia’s knowledge workforce from 2015-2025 to drive the future economy2. It has been predicted that the demand for individuals with research qualifications will surpass the supply available for employment in this time frame3.

NISA outlines $1.1 billion worth of initiatives to drive innovation and knowledge transfer by investing in enablers such as research infrastructure; incentivising business investment in research and development; and removing regulatory obstacles. This agenda identifies science and innovation as critical elements for Australia “to deliver new sources of growth, maintain high‑wage jobs and seize the next wave of economic prosperity”.

Through (1) increased levels of engagement between Queensland’s HDR candidates and employers and research end-users outside of academia, and (2) enhanced employability of our HDR graduates tailored towards the needs of Queensland businesses, the E&E Project addresses the need for improved knowledge transfer and employment of researchers in industry as identified by the ISRS Review and NISA.

The importance of innovation and research for Australia’s economy and our society can be further demonstrated through the emphasis of government policies, initiatives and programs:

Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda
In 2014, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry and Science released the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. The Agenda recognised that innovation is critical to making Australian businesses globally competitive. It contained immediate reforms, economic incentives and a range of initiatives to boost competitiveness and growth for both small and big businesses.

As a key element of the Agenda, the Australian Government released the Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research discussion paper. This paper acknowledged that better translation of research into commercial outcomes is a key part of building our capacity for innovation, growing successful businesses, and boosting productivity and exports. The discussion paper canvassed a range of actions and reforms to improve Australia’s economic performance through improved translation of research into commercial outcomes for Australia.

Entrepreneurs’ Programme
The Entrepreneurs’ Programme was established in 2015 and is the Australian Government’s flagship initiative for business competitiveness and productivity. The program provides practical advice, expert guidance, connections, access to business networks, growth opportunities and financial support to SMEs, entrepreneurs and researchers for their collaboration activities.

Global Innovation Strategy
In 2016, the Australian Government launched the Global Innovation Strategy as an overarching framework to guide Australia’s international industry, science and innovation collaboration. With an initial investment of $36 million over four years in funding initiatives, the strategy supports economic and science diplomacy efforts to increase international industry–research collaboration and build strong connections within the Asia-Pacific region.

CSIRO Innovation Fund
The CSIRO Innovation Fund is a joint government–private sector $200 million fund, launched in 2016 as an initiative of NISA. It invests in startups, spin off companies, and SMEs engaged in the translation of research generated in the publicly funded research sector such as CSIRO and universities. The fund is intended to help improve the translation of publicly funded research into commercial outcomes, stimulate innovation in Australia, boost productivity, and generate jobs. The government is investing a total of $70 million into the fund over 10 years alongside $30 million of revenue from CSIRO’s WLAN program, which has delivered Wi-Fi to the world. The remaining $100 million will be sourced from wholesale private sector investment.

Smart Cities and Suburbs Program
The $50 million competitive Smart Cities and Suburbs Program was announced as part of the 2016 election campaign. The program encourages eligible organisations – local governments, private companies, research organisations and not for profit bodies – to deliver collaborative smart city projects that improve the liveability, productivity and sustainability of Australian cities, suburbs and towns. The program is being run over 3 years from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Research and Development Tax Incentive
The Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive is a broad-based entitlement program, open to firms of all sizes in all sectors who are conducting eligible R&D activities. It reduces the cost to businesses of undertaking R&D activities, offering tax offsets for up to $100 million of eligible R&D expenditure each financial year. The Tax Incentive replaced the R&D Tax Concession Program in 2011. In 2014-15, the R&D Tax Incentive supported over 15,000 businesses and accounted for approximately 30 per cent of total Government spending on science, research and innovation.

Cooperative Research Centres
Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) are collaborations between research organisations. CRCs commonly have dozens of participating organisations: universities and research institutions; businesses from SMEs to multinational corporations; governments at all levels; not-for-profit organisations; and industry and community associations. The CRC Program is a competitive, merit based grant program that supports industry-led and outcome-focussed collaborative research partnerships. The program aims to improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries; foster high quality research to solve industry-identified problems; and facilitate SME participation in collaborative research.

Research and Development Corporations
Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) are a partnership between the Australian Government and industry, created to share the funding and strategic direction setting for primary industry R&D investment and adoption. They are the Australian Government’s main vehicle for funding rural innovation, and can commission and manage targeted investment in research, innovation, and knowledge creation and extension.

Industry Growth Centres
Industry Growth Centres are independent not-for-profit companies that engage with international markets, create national and international collaborative opportunities, and are driven by a strategic board of eminent industry leaders. They bring focus and alignment across industry and innovation policy initiatives, including the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, CRCs, CSIRO, and initiatives under NISA. This was a key initiative under the 2014 Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda, and has $250 million in Australian Government funding for 2016-2020. Each Growth Centre has a Project Fund to support collaborative projects that contribute to the strategic direction outlined in the Sector Competitiveness Plan. Industry Growth Centres have been established in sectors of competitive strength and strategic priority to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness.

» The ACOLA Review

In 2015 the Australian Government commissioned the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) to undertake a national Review of Australia’s Research Training System. This review engaged higher education and research institutions, peak bodies, industry, and government agencies to gather information regarding opportunities to improve Australia’s research training system and deliver evidence-based findings. The recommendations align with one of the ACOLA Review’s terms of reference: to prioritise reform to ensure that research graduates are equipped for and achieve employment outcomes in a range of sectors, including academic teaching, research and industry.

The E&E Project addresses a key need identified in the recommendations of this review: to strengthen the preparation of HDR graduates for a breadth of future roles and career pathways.

» International Education

International education is currently one of Australia’s top service exports, valued at over $19 billion in 2015 (including fees and associated expenditure). Recognised as one of the five super growth sectors contributing to Australia’s transition from a resources-based to a modern services economy, international education offers an unprecedented opportunity for Australia to capitalise on increasing global demand for education services.

In 2016, the Australian Government released Australia’s first National Strategy for International Education 2025 (IE Strategy) highlighting the importance of international education to Australia. This Strategy sets out a 10-year plan to ensure Australia remains a leader in the provision of education services to overseas students. The goals and actions of the IE Strategy have been developed looking through three lenses: the benefits and opportunities for students, for Australia, and for the world. This balance is essential to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of students, business and industry while we grow.

The E&E Project targets each of the five indicators that will be used to measure the success of the IE Strategy in meeting its objectives:

  • Benchmarking against international standards;
  • The employability of graduates;
  • Quality of the student experience;
  • Increased international collaboration and alumni engagement; and
  • Growth in market share from the current level of 6 per cent.

The IE Strategy also recognises that international education offers opportunities to advance diplomacy through Australian educated alumni who develop lasting connections at personal, organisational and government levels.

» Alumni engagement

To further engage our alumni, the Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy 2016-2020 was released in 2016. This is a whole of government public diplomacy initiative that has been developed in collaboration with Australia’s tertiary education sector.

The E&E Project addresses one of the key tenets of this Strategy: to mobilise engagement with alumni through events, professional development, business and research opportunities. This project also recognises potential and current HDR alumni as valuable members of Queensland’s global alumni and key ambassadors for Queensland more broadly.

» Research training

In 2017, the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) published a range of good practice principles (GPPs) for higher education institutions to consider, with the important caveat that the GPPs are relevant to the research training of all HDR candidates (domestic and international). The specific GPPs addressed by the E&E Project are:

  • Treat the academic success and personal wellbeing of international HDR candidates as core business;
  • Provide opportunities for HDR candidates, supervisors and the wider university to generate, share and benefit from the presence of international HDR candidates;
  • Continue to develop the relationship between the institution and international HDR candidates beyond graduation; and
  • Provide international HDR candidates with opportunities to advance their English language through broader transferable skills throughout their candidature.

» Candidates

Finally, the E&E Project also aligns with a similar finding from HDR candidates themselves: the International Student Barometer (2016) data highlights that international HDR candidates are seeking more support in terms of their employability beyond their HDR program.

Note: this text has been extracted and modified from the following sources:

Footnotes (citations are as they appear in these sources):

1 HDR stands for Higher Degree Research. In Australia, our HDR students (known as ‘candidates’) are completing a research degree, usually referring to a PhD. Click here for more information on what this means.

2 Deloitte Access Economics. (2015). The importance of Universities to Australia’s prosperity. Canberra. In: ATN (2017). Enhancing the value of PhDs to Australian Industry. ACT, Australia.

3 Edwards, Daniel; Radloff, Ali; and Coates, Hamish. (2009). Supply, demand and characteristics of the higher degree by research population in Australia. In: ATN (2017). Enhancing the value of PhDs to Australian Industry. ACT, Australia.