Sarah Harvey

Science worth $330B each year and one million jobs

AUSTRALIA'S scientific minds are providing a big bang for the economy.

A new report reveals scientific advances in the past 20 to 30 years have driven an estimated $330 billion a year of Australia's economic growth and support more than one million jobs.

The research, produced by the Centre for International Economics, found physical, mathematical and biological sciences contributed to about a quarter of our economic activity.

The findings were launched in Canberra on Friday as Australia's outgoing chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, was farewelled.

The research also explored the huge impact of science on the health of Australians.

Without scientific breakthroughs, the burden of disease carried by our community would be 18 to 34% higher and Australians would have missed out on health improvements worth up to $156 billion a year.

The new report, "The importance of recent advances in the physical, mathematical and biological sciences to the Australian economy", was based on two CIE studies.

Prof Chubb said the findings demonstrated 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," Prof Chubb said.

"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."

Dr Alan Finkel will take on the role of chief scientist and begin his three-year term on Monday.

Dr Finkel will be Australia's eighth chief scientist since the role was established.

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