Research impact

In launching a new report into research impact in New South Wales, Professor Duncan Ivison from the University of Sydney said that the state’s 11 public universities combine a commitment to academic excellence with a passion for translating their research into economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits for the state, Australia and the world. Below are Professor Ivison’s introductory remarks.

Universities are a vital part of the economic fabric of the state. In 2018, international education was NSW’s second largest export (behind coal) and the state’s largest services export. It was worth $13 billion and supported 95,000 jobs in NSW.

The aim of this publication is to highlight the extraordinary contribution our universities and their partners are making to the prosperity and well-being of NSW. It demonstrates the many and varied ways in which universities, in partnership with their local communities, industries and state and local governments, are turning good ideas into real-world benefits.

In highlighting these partnerships, we also want to encourage even more engagement and collaboration between researchers, policy makers and businesses – there is so much more we can do together.

Research can be an engine for innovation and growth. It is also capable of inspiring us by looking over the horizon to investigate the unknown and to find unexpected solutions to intractable problems.

Public policy and research tend to work to different timetables. Meticulous gathering of data, analysis of evidence, writing and disseminating findings does not always dovetail with the political cycle.However, through collaboration with policy makers, service providers and businesses it is possible to generate outstanding, mutually beneficial outcomes.

Sustained relationships help to identify priorities for R&D and can provide exciting research opportunities within industry and the community. Working together also fosters better understanding of the long-term nature of the research process, the time constraints imposed on policy development and the frequent need in the workplace for just-in-time solutions.

Publicly funded research is conducted under the umbrella of national and other priorities; it also emerges from the process of inquiry itself, which builds on existing knowledge and asks big questions.

Some of the research presented here demonstrates the outstanding intellectual resources New South Wales can draw on to lead the way in new industries and new ways of doing business; other examples show how research contributes to implementing innovative public policy and programs. All demonstrate the ways in which our research can have impact beyond the academic world and how it engages with industry and the community.

The case studies in this publication range across a diversity of fields and methodologies. Many tackle cross-cutting problems, drawing together different disciplines and approaches.

For example, an educational intervention can also improve mental health and reduce social disadvantage. So, while we have chosen priorities identified by the NSW Government as an organising principle for what follows, readers will see that the boundaries between these priorities are porous and thus helps demonstrate how interconnected they are.

Each case study demonstrates why research matters: not only because it changes and improves lives, but because it deepens human understanding of the world around us and of our fellow human beings.

In highlighting these partnerships, we also want to encourage even more engagement and collaboration between researchers, policy makers and businesses.

Read the impact report

Introduction to Research impact NSW by Professor Duncan Ivison, Chair, NSW Deputy & Pro Vice-Chancellors’ (Research) Committee, reproduced with permission. Feature image by Nicola Bailey.