Apr 19, 2022 | Federal News, Scott Morrison

The Morrison Government will invest $50 million to create a new business and research partnership with Western Australia’s Curtin University, focusing on the critical mineral supply chain that will create 1,300 jobs.

This project is the first under the Government’s Trailblazer program and will see Curtin University partner with 33 business representatives, the University of Queensland and James Cook University. 

The focus will be on developing new technology that will help Australia to establish competitive advantage in key critical minerals supply chains, including nickel, cobalt and lithium.

The project is expected to create 1,300 new jobs over the next decade through industry employment of researchers and work ready students, an increase in research and industry activity at regional campuses, and new positions created in start-ups launched through the Trailblazer.  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Curtin University was the first Australian university to receive funding through the Trailblazer program which is designed to focus Australia’s considerable research power on Australia’s National Manufacturing Priorities.

“Our economic plan backs in talented Australians to supercharge research and new ideas, working with business and industry leaders, to develop new products, new companies and more jobs to help build a strong economy and a stronger future,” the Prime Minister said.

“Employment in the mining industry grew by over 26,800 jobs – or 10.6 per cent  – over the past year and is expected to grow by 5.9 per cent over the next five years, so it is important we back our best researchers and their ideas to ensure Australia’s mining sector is secure for the future.

“It’s no accident we’re announcing the first Trailblazer program in WA, which is designed to push the boundaries, drive collaboration between universities and industry and challenge intellectual property arrangements that limit the dividend for our young, smart, savvy researchers.”

Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education Bridget McKenzie said the project will have a significant impact for regions across Australia, but particularly in Western Australia.

“This is a research commercialisation project that will directly benefit regional Australia by ensuring our mining sector is strong, efficient and reliable,” Minister McKenzie said.

“The Trailblazer investment is an important component of the Government’s $2 billion Regional Accelerator Program announced in the recent 2022 Budget, which is designed to drive economic growth and jobs in regional Australia.”

Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said Curtin University and its industry partners have promised $144 million in co-investment, matching public funding more than 2 to 1.

“The investment of industry partners in this project highlights the extraordinary potential of the Government’s Research Commercialisation Action Plan, with leading edge manufacturing at its core,” Minister Robert said.

“Harnessing the significant and important research done right here in Australia means more jobs right here in Australia, more exports and a stronger economy. The Morrison Government has a plan for a stronger economy and a stronger future.”

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said it was a win for Western Australia to see Curtin University chosen as a Trailblazer.

“Curtin University and its partners will create new resources technologies, new STEM and mining jobs in critical regions – particularly in Western Australia – and new career paths,” Minister Price said.

“It is incredibly exciting for Western Australia to have this investment right here on the ground, supporting Western Australian jobs and the Western Australian economy.”

Curtin University is the first successful Trailblazer to be announced, with further announcements expected in coming weeks. 

Curtin University was selected as a Trailblazer from a two-stage competitive assessment process where universities were required to submit expressions of interest and then more detailed business cases. 

Earlier this year, the Morrison Government released its ten-year $2.2 billion University Research Commercialisation Action Plan, which focuses Australia’s considerable research power on our National Manufacturing Priorities. The Action plan included an initial $243 million for four Trailblazers. An additional $119 million was invested for two more Trailblazers through our regional accelerator program announced on Budget night.