Support for research is provided by programs that must satisfy specific criteria. These vary depending on the desired outcome and the targeted sector of the research community but fall back on broad goals such as aligning with Australia’s National Research Priorities, aimed at addressing societal challenges. These societal challenges are:

  • An Environmentally Sustainable Australia
  • Promoting and Maintaining Good Health
  • Frontier Technologies for Building and Transforming Australian Industries
  • Safeguarding Australia

Each of these priorities are relevant for enabling technologies such as biotechnology and nanotechnology. The research underpinning enabling technologies is primarily funded by the Federal government but is also supported with money from State governments and the private sector. Research to develop enabling technologies usually requires a high degree of collaboration between disciplines such as engineering, physics, agriculture, medical science, chemistry, materials science, biology, genetics, physiology and ICT.

Research Agencies

Several Australian Government research organisations have research capability in enabling technologies including: 

Research Funding Agencies

Australia’s Government research funding agencies are the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council. In 2011/12, the combined support for biotechnology was almost $90 million and for nanotechnology it was over $50 million. This is through a number of funding programs, including the National Competitive Grants Program, Discovery and Linkage grants and Special Research Initiatives.

Collaborative Research


The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program is an Australian Government initiative administered by the Department. The CRC program supports end user driven research collaborations to address major challenges facing Australia. CRCs pursue solutions to these challenges that are innovative, of high impact and capable of being effectively deployed by the end users. The CRC Directory provides a guide to the CRCs that are currently active and includes an overview of earlier CRCs at the back of the publication.

Research Strategies

The department supported the Australian Academy of Sciences to develop a National Nanotechnology Research Strategy in 2012, which maps Australia’s research strengths, commercial successes to date and highlights important research opportunities for the future. This document will help promote collaboration between government, academia and industry, coordinate infrastructure planning, assist in workforce management and inform research funding decisions in general.

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