Australian ICT research spending surges
Supercomputer projects boost spending, but ICT languishes behind medical research
Sharp climb in Australian ICT research spending Supercomputer builds boost numbers Australian higher education organisations collectively spent AUD$358.5m researching what the Australian Bureau of Statistics calls “Information and computing sciences” in 2010, according to the Bureau's newly-released Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations, Australia, 2010.
Professor Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology suggested the jump can largely be attributed to new supercomputer builds at the Pawsey Centre, the Australian National University's NCI machine and the VLSCI supercomputer at Melbourne University. Professor Bailes suggests each of these efforts has a budget in the tens of millions, with the Pawsey project alone worth AUD$80m.
Professor Bailes' guess seems as good an explanation as any for why the increase from 2008 to 2010 is comfortably the largest increase in the history of the ABS' data on the topic, as can be seen in the table below
|Year of ABS report||Level of research (in AUD$millions)|
It's also instructive to look at the overall spending on research in 2010, which shows ICT in 5th place overall.
|Discipline||Level of research (in AUD$Millions)|
|Medical and health sciences||$2,351,222|
|Studies in human society||$432,741|
|Information and computing sciences||$358,582|
|Commerce, management, tourism and services||$352,057|
|Agricultural and veterinary sciences||$307,897|
|Psychology and cognitive sciences||$240,237|
|Language, communication and culture||$212,551|
|Law and legal studies||$137,788|
|Studies in creative arts and writing||$122,353|
|History and archaeology||$112,672|
|Built environment and design||$107,299|
|Philosophy and religious studies||$87,213|
It's hard to analyse the ABS data longitudinally because the names of categories change over time, and some categories enter and exit the lists. But we sort all the categories on offer, and rank them by year, to offer a look at where research dollars have flowed over time.
The full analysis is a little tricky to format, so we've made it available here as a spreadsheet.
|Year||Rank for ICT research|
This analysis suggests that, were it not for the projects Professor Bailes mentions, ICT would likely have remained in eighth position in terms of funding received.
We'll leave debate about whether eighth place is “good enough” to others, but it seems worth noting that medical research has been the number one recipient of funds in every surveyed year since 1994. ICT also outranks “Earth Sciences” in every year, which may lead to some head-scratching about just which field is the engine of the economy. ®