Strategic Research Priorities

The Strategic Research Priorities (SRPs) | were announced by the Australian Government on 21 June 2013.

As part of implementing the Actions in the National Research Investment Plan (Investment Plan), the Australian Research Committee (ARCom) has developed the SRPs to drive investment in areas that are of immediate and critical importance to Australia and its place in the world.

The SRPs will complement the broad base of support for research provided by the Australian Government and will foster a more coordinated and strategic approach within the identified areas.

The National Research Priorities (NRPs) have been discontinued and any associated reporting requirements will be phased out by 30 June 2014.

A frequently asked questions document | has been prepared to assist stakeholders.

Development process

In developing the Investment Plan, ARCom identified that Australia’s investment in research would be most effective in meeting the needs of the nation if it were set within a comprehensive planning framework.

Strategic whole-of-government research priorities are central to this framework. Such priorities will encourage a critical research mass to develop and be supported in areas of competitive advantage and national importance.

In December 2012, the Chief Scientist presented a set of five societal challenges to the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) as the first step in the process. These challenges were endorsed by PMSEIC and adopted as the overarching structure for the development of the priorities.

The challenges are those areas which are the most important facing Australia and its place in the world and provide the framework within which elements of the Australian Government’s research expenditure can be prioritised in areas of strategic importance to Australia.

These challenges are:

  • Living in a changing environment
  • Promoting population health and wellbeing
  • Managing our food and water assets
  • Securing Australia’s place in a changing world
  • Lifting productivity and economic growth.

Addressing these challenges requires effort from across the full spectrum of research disciplines, including the physical and life sciences, engineering, information and communications technology and the humanities and social sciences.

In February 2013 the Chief Scientist, in his capacity as Chair of ARCom, convened a forum of over 100 esteemed research leaders, senior members of the public service and members of industry to assist with developing the priorities. Following consideration by ARCom, the SRPs were endorsed by the Australian Government.


The Chair of ARCom will write to all departments and agencies engaged in the funding of research outlining the implementation process. Departments and agencies will be asked to report annually to ARCom on activities or interventions undertaken to address the SRPs.

ARCom will consider the existing capacity and capability in the research system for each of the SRPs, taking into account all of the fundamental elements as described in the Investment Plan: publicly funded research, workforce, infrastructure, collaboration and business research.

The capacity and capability mapping will be provided to relevant departments and agencies as a baseline indicator of the research system’s capacity in the priority areas. The mapping analysis will support informed decisions on whether the capacity and capability exists to address the SRPs or if interventions are required to address gaps or barriers.

It is not intended that every department or agency should address every priority. Nor is it intended that individual Departments should pursue these priorities at the expense of their mission and core activities.

The SRPs will cover the period from 2013-14 through to 2015-16 and will be reviewed triennially as part of the development of the next National Research Investment Plan.

The period 2013-14 will be a transition year to allow departments and agencies to remove the current requirement to report against the former National Research Priorities (NRPs) from their internal processes and to develop appropriate procedures to align with the new SRPs.


For enquiries about the Strategic Research Priorities, please email:

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