New South Wales releases R&D roadmap

20-year R&D roadmap focusses on 8 technologies that can put New South Wales in digital advantage

New South Wales has a new government-driven 20-year research and development (R&D) roadmap, intended to put the state on a path towards producing a raft of new technology-driven tools and services. The goal is to meet the challenges and identify the emerging trends to lift productivity, standards of living and environmental protection.

The ambitious approach is intended to create a focussed, coordinated research, development and investment plan to harness and support new and emerging technologies from research to creation.

“R&D undertaken in our universities, institutes and tech businesses is a major source of innovation and should be supported for the whole community to thrive,” the government said in its vision statement.

This new roadmap comes after a government panel recommended establishing a new R&D group to foster ideas and investment. It found that the state’s government-backed R&D activity and investment was lacking and needed to be more formalised to make the most of the new technologies and opportunities in future jobs and industries.

Focus on R&D will turn ideas into new creations

The government says the next 20 years will see rapid and significant disruption in the global economy, bringing both challenges and opportunities and it wants to position the state to be ready. The roadmap identifies four technology themes where it believes the state has international or domestic competitive advantages: digital, materials and chemistry, biotechnology and energy.

Consulting research and industry leaders and with data analysis of the state’s competitive advantage, the plan identifies where NSW has compelling aggregations of competitive advantages in science and technology.

The roadmap will function as a blueprint to identity existing and emerging competitive advantages or strategic needs, and direct research funding. It will also allow private R&D investment and activities from businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, startups, and investors. It should help coordinate research between industry, university, and government. The state will also continue to monitor changing landscape of competitive advantages and identity disruptive technologies that have the potential to address critical economic, social, and environmental challenges.

Supporting New South Wales to be a digital powerhouse

When it comes to digital technologies there are eight areas identified, which are software, AI, data analytics, quantum computing, blockchain, robotics, communications/IoT and semiconductors.

The plan says the state is well positioned to take advantage in this area, with a strong workforce, track record of industry investment and many sectors already using digital technologies. “The vast and growing digital environment also requires frameworks and protections to build trust and security in digital interactions and infrastructure,” the plan notes.

While it doesn’t specify the exact areas of competitive advantages in each of the eight digital technologies, it points to the opportunities in relation to ability to generate insights and use data for decision making, automation software and hardware enabling productivity gains across administration and building management, agriculture, and manufacturing, while sensors and communication technologies will play a critical role in smart infrastructure, supporting complex autonomous systems.

It also believes the state has competitive advantages across fintech, quantum skills, development of data usage standards and trusted identify frameworks, use of real-time digital twins and digital technologies for management of complex energy grid operations, trading and exports.

Assessing the state’s strategic position, the plan has found the state has strong R&D capabilities through universities, research centres and business, strong education and training, employment and skilled migration and a strong platform of innovation identified through patents. It is also positioned as a strong local consumer base and is a major hub in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the roadmap.

Next steps will be to develop specific action plans around the applications identified for support to looking at translating and commercialising research.

The roadmap helps government and industry to respond by identifying where NSW’s competitive advantages can be leveraged to meet these challenges, according to the roadmap.

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