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Government of South Australia - Department of State Development


    Announcement: Chief Scientist for South Australia

    Chief Scientist for South Australia, Professor Caroline McMillen AO, has advised that she is stepping down from her role for personal reasons and will finish in the position on August 25, 2023.

    On behalf of the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science, we thank Professor McMillen for the passion and dedication she has brought to the role of Chief Scientist since her appointment in 2018.

    South Australia has been the beneficiary of Professor McMillen’s extensive experience building strong research and innovation value chains – channelled into the development of the state’s EXCITE Plan.

    The EXCITE Plan identifies SA’s strengths across research, business collaboration, innovation and translation, and outlines strategies to drive widespread environmental, health and economic impact.

    Other highlights of Professor McMillen’s tenure include:

    • Delivering a comprehensive database of SA’s research and innovation strengths to support SA Government agencies in communicating our strong global standing and attract further talent and investment.
    • Working with South Australian universities, research institutes and industry to increase the success of SA bids for Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) and Cooperative Research Project – raising SA’s national share of CRC income.
    • Harnessing the EXCITE Plan to increase the visibility and performance of SA’s innovation districts through engagement with the Global Network of Innovation Districts and the appointment of MTP Connect as an Innovation Intermediary for Adelaide BioMed City.
    • Working with industry and research leaders to understand the gaps in SA’s major research infrastructure assets and developing proposals to support greater State and Australian Government investment in SA’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) facilities.
    • Developing SA’s Industry Doctoral Training Centre (IDTC) initiative built on leading global models. The SA IDTCs not only support students to identify an industry co-supervisor alongside their research supervisor - but also run ‘Plus Programs’ where leaders engage with the student cohort on the future opportunities and challenges in their industry sector.
    • Overseeing the development of a comprehensive SA Future R&I Workforce Plan.

    Professor McMillen is a longstanding champion of STEMM excellence – evidenced by her involvement in the annual SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards, mentorship of early and mid-career researchers, and ‘Best of the Best’ campaign that recognised and widely promoted notable research papers published across the state’s public universities.

    She is also a passionate advocate for increasing diversity in STEMM, and consistently contributes to policy and strategy discussions on how to ensure all sectors of our communities are granted equitable access to STEMM education and career opportunities.

    Professor McMillen is a distinguished medical and health researcher and leader who has held national and international roles in research, industry engagement, innovation strategy and policy development.

    Prior to her time with the South Australian Government, Professor McMillen was Vice Chancellor at the NSW’s University of Newcastle from 2011-2018, where she collaborated with leaders from industry, local and state government to drive the economic transition of the City of Newcastle. Upon on her departure, she was awarded the Key to the City of Newcastle by the Lord Mayor for her leadership contributions.

    Professor McMillen has recently finalised a comprehensive set of research and innovation policy recommendations, underpinned by a significant body of background research and data analysis, to increase connections within, and the global impact of, our state’s research and innovation sector.

    These recommendations are currently being considered by the South Australian Government. The Department for Industry, Innovation and Science will be responsible for identifying potential candidates for the next Chief Scientist and making a recommendation to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science and Cabinet.

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