The 25th meeting of the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) was held today on December 12 in Canberra where members gathered for their third meeting of 2012.

The main focus of the meeting was a discussion about breakthrough actions that the Australian government could take to enhance innovation as well as a process for setting national research priorities.

It had been agreed at the last PMSEIC meeting in July that the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) would provide advice on these matters after a comprehensive consultation process.

The OCS wrote to organisations, peak bodies and individuals seeking their answer to the question: What are the top breakthrough actions that the Commonwealth and state/territory governments, research agencies, universities and the business community can take to utilise fully Australia’s substantial research capability to contribute to national productivity growth through innovation?

Organisations approached included federal government departments, the Business Council of Australia (BCA), Australian Industry Group (AIG), science and research agencies and the learned academies. There were 65 written responses offering a wide range of opinions, with many presenting consistent themes and issues.

A new way to look at Australia’s scientific research performance was considered by the Council, which highlights the potential improvement to performance from setting strategic research priorities.

To develop the advice on setting national research priorities for Australia, the OCS assessed the relevance, value and applicability of international priority setting procedures. The Chief Scientist also consulted with government scientific advisors in the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and New Zealand.

A report on the Securing Australia’s Future program, undertaken on behalf of PMSEIC by the Australian Council of Learned Academies, was tabled; including two interim project reports.

PMSEIC will reconvene again in the first quarter of 2013.