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Science a massive contributor to Australia’s economic output

Australia’s science sector contributes more than a quarter of Australia’s economic output, with a newly released report showing that advances in the physical, mathematical and biological sciences in the past 20 to 30 years have underpinned $330 billion annually of that output.

And, these advances have supported more than 1 million Australian jobs, or 10% of total employment.

The extent of science contribution to the economy is presented in a new report commissioned by the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Australian Academy of Science and produced by the Centre for International Economics (CIE). The report is a synthesis of two CIE studies - a new analysis of the contribution of advances in the biological sciences to the Australian economy, and a 2015 analysis of the contribution of the advanced natural and physical sciences.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC, said the reports underscore the importance of science to all Australians.

“Of course the benefits of science are difficult to measure. Of course those benefits can only be partially counted in dollar terms. But of course we have to investigate them, in economic as well as human terms, because we cannot afford to ever take them for granted.

“We have, for the first time, a credible estimate of a phenomenon that defines our lives and underpins our prospects for growth. I trust it will inform our discussions about the actions we take to maximise the benefits of science for Australians.”

Professor Andrew Holmes AM, President of the Australian Academy of Science, says that the finding that science contributes so substantially to Australia’s economy is consistent with similar analysis conducted in Australia and overseas.

“Our national situation is unique, but the message for all advanced economies is clear. Scientists, and the industries which harness their discoveries, are critical to prosperity.  

“We need Australian science to address our own challenges, just as we need it to have access to the new knowledge uncovered overseas.”

To access the 2016 and 2015 reports, along with 'The importance of recent advances in the physical, mathematical and biological sciences to the Australian economy' (a synthesis of findings from both investigations) click here.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).