The Western Australian Government wants local scientists to become directly involved in a number of key science and technology projects currently based in the Eastern States.
Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Ian Taylor said the aim was to have Western Australia operate more branches of national co-operative research centres - the specialised laboratories now playing a major role in helping create new products and techniques for industry.
Mr Taylor said Western Australia had been chosen as the site for nine CRCs.
"But this has still left a number of our industries without the scientific support necessary to keep them at the forefront of development," he said.
"We have identified 15 interstate CRCs which would be of great potential benefit to Western Australia if we gained some direct involvement.
"We have already been successful in establishing one branch of an interstate CRC to Perth and I believe that with more concerted effort we could attract many more."
Mr Taylor said over the next two years the Government would aim to raise to at least 18 the number of CRCs represented in WA.
Each of the projects WA was seeking to join had one thing in common - they were all of vital importance to the State's main exporting industries.
"Any one of them could prove vital to WA's economic growth and if we ignore them we could put this State's future at risk," the Deputy Premier said.
Mr Taylor said as the country's major exporter, WA could not afford to lag behind any scientific or technological breakthrough affecting its main exporting industries.
"But by seeking WA's direct involvement, I in no way wish to throw into question either the competence or efforts of the interstate groups," he said.
"It is more an issue of WA having a lot to offer in the area of expertise.
"My only purpose is to broaden the scope of these programs by involving Western Australian scientists and make sure that Western Australian problems are covered."
Mr Taylor said the 15 research programs targeted had all been established through the Federal Government's co-operative research centre program.
They covered such diverse interests as energy, mining, information technology, agriculture, the environment and medicine.
In fact, negotiations for WA scientists to join three of the programs had already started.
"We are not just seeking a share of the existing research funds allocated for these projects," Mr Taylor said.
"Our interest is in expanding them.
"We are inviting WA researchers in academia and industry to put forward proposals for creating branches or 'nodes' of the interstate research centres, and will help negotiate their participation.
"Those which come up with acceptable plans will be made eligible for the type of State Government funding which was provided when the original co-operative research centres (CRCs) were established last year."
Mr Taylor said funds for the additional branches or `nodes' would be drawn from the State's existing CRC program.
"But the CRC program puts emphasis on `co-operation' and we will be doing all we can to persuade industry to become directly involved," he said.
Mr Taylor said under the original CRC program, WA had become involved in the establishment of nine research centres.
Every one which had been established in WA had received some form of direct assistance from the State Government.
So far, and up until 1996, WA has $5 million allocated to the State's CRC program.