Water Journal : Water Journal December 2013
WATER DECEMBER 2013 4My Point of View WHY DRIVING INVESTMENT IN R&D IS ESSENTIAL TO AUSTRALIA'S ECONOMIC PROSPERITY Professor Don Bursill AM FTSE -- Chief Scientist for South Australia Don has had some 40 years of experience in the Australian water industry. For most of that time he worked for the SA Water Corporation as its Chief Scientist, a position he held for 17 years. He led a national team that established the Co-operative Research Centre for Water Quality and Treatment under the Australian Government's Co-operative Research Centres Program and was CEO of the Centre from 1995 until December 2005. After many years in the water sector, having enjoyed a strong involvement in research and innovation in Australia and internationally, it has been particularly interesting to gain exposure to a range of other technology areas through my current role as Chief Scientist for South Australia. The water sector employs many people skilled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions. Developing, operating and maintaining the infrastructure and other systems needed to provide high-quality, reliable water services requires multidisciplinary teams working effectively and with the bene t of the most up-to-date knowledge and technologies. While working in the water sector I was always looking for ways to increase the level of support for research and innovation within the utilities, as well as enhancing collaboration with universities and other research organisations. The establishment of the CRC for Water Quality and Treatment in 1995 was a signi cant opportunity and mechanism to do just that. When the CRC ended its life and transitioned into what is now Water Research Australia, there were almost 30 core participating organisations and a slightly larger number of associate members. The CRC, in one way or another, had an impact on most of the urban water sector in Australia and was highly recognised and appreciated internationally as well. WHY SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY? The statement of purpose of the CRC aligned well with my own personal approach: "To assist the Australian water industry to produce high quality water at an affordable price". Aspiring to excellence always seems preferable to being content with mediocrity. It is more challenging, but also in nitely more interesting. Achievements made under a more aspirational set of objectives are likely to be more signi cant and useful in improving business performance, productivity and the quality of service provided. Scienti c research and innovation are recognised by leading countries such as the Western European democracies, the USA and Canada as an important factor in achieving sustainable economic development. In these countries competitive advantage and high levels of productivity (albeit in a high labour cost environment) are achieved through superior product and technology developments.
Water Journal November 2013
Water Journal February 2014