Desperately seeking innovation nirvana: Australia’s cooperative research centres

David Noble, Michael B. Charles, Robyn Keast, Robbert Kivits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-34
Number of pages20
JournalPolicy Design and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is
properly cited.


  • collaboration
  • cooperative
  • innovation
  • Research
  • university-industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Public Administration


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