Government Announces $2 Billion Research Commercialisation Action Plan Leading into Election Campaign

February 7th, 2022

A federal election is due to occur by May 2022.

Thankfully, after years of instability and uncertainty, it is not expected that the R&D Tax Incentive will be impacted by the upcoming election campaign (in the short term at least).

This is the case, since recent legislative amendments to the R&D Tax Incentive have only recently commenced after the October 2020 bi-partisan enactment, and it would be unlikely for further change to happen so soon.

Both major political parties have indicated that government support for Industry, Science and Innovation will be a priority during the upcoming campaign:

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week announced a $2 billion Research Commercialisation Action Plan in an effort to align Australia’s research with the six priority sectors under the government’s manufacturing strategy to improve commercialisation outcomes:
    • Stage one grants of up to $500,000 will be available;
    • Stage two grants worth up to $5 million, on a 50-50 co-investment basis will be available;
    • The third stage will operate through Main Sequence Ventures, aiming to “catalyse” venture capital investment in Australian R&D. Fifty companies will receive support across two rounds worth a total of $150 million.
  • The Labor party have previously announced their policy will focus on developing Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capacity. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese pledged in January 2022 that he would instruct Labor’s proposed $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to make medical technology a top priority, and work with the Future Made in Australia Office to develop an investment plan for healthcare.

It is natural for both parties to have differing approaches to support direct incentives to industry (such as discretionary grants).

It is however hoped that the future government can ensure that infrastructure necessary to support ongoing and long-term Australian investment is stable and suitable for measures such as:

  • Passage into Australia of skilled talent and capital;
  • R&D Tax Incentives;
  • Taxation of employee share options;
  • Measures to protect and incentivise intellectual property domiciling in Australia.

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