Events » Managing Research and Innovation for Social and Economic Development

Managing Research and Innovation for Social and Economic Development

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Internationally and in Australia, improved governance, management and evaluation of research and innovation for development, both social and economic, are increasing in importance. Despite the financial downturn, many national and supranational governments (such as the European Union) have continued to invest in tertiary education and research in the hope of innovation-led economic recovery. Tertiary education institutions are expected to play a central role in the research-innovation nexus, but how to effectively manage and govern that relationship is not well understood. This conference will contribute to current debates on the complex interplay between research management and policy (both national and institutional) and innovation enhancement for a country’s capacity building and development.

Key themes

Managing research and innovation expectations

The critical importance of innovation for economic and social development is becoming universally recognised. Even despite the advent of the GFC, many governments have continued to invest in tertiary education and research in the hope of innovation led economic recovery. But how government policies and institutional management strategies enhance tertiary education and training for innovation and development is not well understood. The relationships between research, innovation and economic growth are more complex than the direct linear ones often assumed by policy makers and unchallenged by institutional leaders needing to justify public funding. The conference will critically explore tertiary education’s role with respect to such issues as the supply of ideas and discovery for innovation, on the one hand, and that of human capital and knowledge workers on the other. These issues will be explored from the perspectives of both tertiary education and industry.

Managing the tertiary education sector in support of research and innovation

Increasingly, governments across the world are relying on market and quasi-market approaches to manage educational systems. There are contradictory pressures for institutions, educators and researchers to compete and to collaborate. There is ongoing debate on the desirability of unified or formally diversified education systems. This raises a number of important questions to be addressed by the conference. What structures will support high quality research, prepare the next generation of researchers and educate the broader population? Should research funding be concentrated in a small number of institutions or shared across all institutions offering higher education programs? Does the presumed universality of the teaching/research nexus enhance or impede innovation and development?

Managing institutional research

There are various ways to manage research within universities, reflecting system-wide and institutional-specific factors. Although there is no single model, the literature suggests critical factors include response speed to external opportunities, level of devolution of responsibilities, devolved operational responsibilities, flexibility in allocating resources (including academic staff), sufficient “critical mass” in organizational units, an interdisciplinary research support structure, and visionary leadership. Universities require a framework to deal with the legal and ethical issues involved in research, as well as mechanisms for quality assurance and resource allocation. The conference will explore the exercise of research management in the context of complex expectations placed on it by both the institution and the researchers themselves.

Another dimension to this issue is managing external relationships between research intensive institutions and their research communities: universities, hospitals, affiliated research institutes, autonomous research institutes, private laboratories, etc. Research and innovation occurs in a variety of institutions, not only universities. Increasingly, research managers must look beyond the borders of their own institutions to ensure engagement with cutting-edge research at the forefront of the major issues facing society, such as climate change, while simultaneously maximising their institutions advantage in a highly competitive research funding environment.

Managing international research networks and collaborations

The formation of international knowledge networks is becoming increasingly important and they are attracting more and more global research funding. Research publications involving authors from two or more countries are growing both in quantity and impact as measured by the number of citations. There are a number of drivers, including the size, complexity and cost of some research projects, the global nature of many urgent scientific problems, and the desire for scientists to work with the best people and equipment. International collaboration is supported by developments in ICT and the availability of cheap travel. The conference will examine this relatively new phenomenon and the complex management issues involved with major international research network initiatives.

Dates and location

This event was held on 30 and 31 October 2013 at Gandel Hall - The National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra ACT 2600.

Who should attend?

Policy and decision makers from public and private tertiary education institutions, government agencies and representative bodies who have an interest in research, innovation and skills development.

Delegates will be in roles such as Vice-Chancellor, CEO, Deputy/Pro Vice- Chancellor, Director, Deputy Director, Dean, Heads of Department, Policy Advisor, Course Coordinator and other academic leaders and senior educators in tertiary education.


Policy makers, institutional leaders and prominent private sector representatives will address the importance, relevance and policy implications of each of the major themes outlined above. Confirmed speakers as at 23 October 2013 include:

  • Professor Alan Pettigrew Professorial Fellow, LH Martin Institute;
  • Professor Warwick Anderson Chief Executive Officer, National Health and Medical Research Council [read Professor Anderson's recent article about maintaining a sustainable health system];
  • Professor Stuart Cunningham Distinguished Professor of Media and Communications, Queensland University of Technology and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation;
  • Professor Moira Clay Director, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research; President, Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS);
  • Professor Peter Maassen Director, Higher Education Development Association, University of Oslo (Norway);
  • Mr Doron Ben-Meir Chief Executive Officer, Commercialisation Australia [read Doron's recent article about factors driving innovation];
  • Ms Belinda Robinson Chief Executive, Universities Australia;
  • Professor Leanna Read Chair, CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacture; Non-Executive Director, Biosensis Pty Ltd;
  • Professor Merle Jacob Professor, Research Policy Institute, Lund University (Sweden);
  • Professor Sandra Harding Chair, Universities Australia and Vice-Chancellor, James Cook University;
  • Professor Robin Batterham Kernot Professor of Engineering, University of Melbourne; President, Academy Technological Sciences and Engineering; Former Chief Scientist of Australia (1999-2006);
  • Ms Leanne Harvey Executive General Manager, Australian Research Council (ARC).

Conference Program

Download conference program (PDF; correct as at 25 October 2013). 


AU$1,500 (AU$1,650 inc. GST)

Fee includes all sessions and meals during the conference.

More information

For more information please contact Amalie Rozsa on +61 3 9035 6429 or e-mail

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Ms Belinda Robinson Chief Executive, Universities Australia
Ms Belinda Robinson Chief Executive, Universities Australia
Prof. Merle Jacob, Lund University (Sweden)
Prof. Merle Jacob, Lund University (Sweden)
Mr Doron Ben-Meir, CEO, Commercialisation Australia
Mr Doron Ben-Meir, CEO, Commercialisation Australia