RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Western Australian capacity in marine industry research and development is located both within industry itself and within government agencies and universities.
The extent to which industry utilises public research capacity and such capacity addresses industry needs, are themes which arise in this analysis, as in other similar activities world wide. This is illustrated in the discussion on the Australian Maritime Engineering Cooperative Research Centre (AMECRC) and its value to the Australian fast ferry construction industry.
The Perth core of AMECRC, located at Curtin University, has successfully carried out a joint development and production program with Austal Ships, producing ride control systems for approximately twenty of the fast ferries built by that company.
The fast ferry industry more generally however, has concerns regarding the use of publicly funded research groups, citing research relevance and confidentiality as reasons for retaining research in-house. AMECRC has now successfully completed an external fifth year review process which will enable completion of the initially scheduled seven year phase to proceed.
The overall Cooperative Research Centre program is subject to a Federal government review, due to report in 1998. This will govern the extent to which government support for a CRC renewal process will proceed. The outcome of this review is important for retaining the expertise base so far developed in Western Australia.
An extensive assessment of marine industry research and development needs was compiled based on the results of approximately 60 industry visits carried out during the present and previous studies. An extensive list of topics emerged and are listed in table