A $9-million grant to academics to discover ways of improving the superannuation system will help put Australia in a position to sell its know-how to the rest of the world.

This call by Simon McKeon, former Australian of the year and chair of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), was made as he announced the formal hand over of a $3-million grant from CSIRO to four universities: Monash, the lead university, Griffith, Western Australia and Warwick in the UK.

The grant is being matched by a further $3 million from industry partners and government agencies, as well as $3 million from the universities themselves.

“We have such a good superannuation system today, we should not leave money on the table by failing to export our precious intellectual property,” said McKeon. “There is no reason why we should not be producing export revenue from developed countries we normally look up to.”

He added that the industry had so far been “passive” in exploiting its success overseas.

The grant will principally be used to discover what the optimal decumulation process is and to solve the conundrum of how a sector that is already worth more than the annual gross domestic product of Australia will find enough domestic assets to invest in.

The latter project will give some focus to infrastructure investing. Griffith University will lead a project on public-private partnerships in infrastructure and the determinants of their success and failure.

Professor Deborah Ralston, executive director of the Australian Centre for Financial Studies, drew the academic research program together for Monash.

“This high impact research will provide an independent evidence base to inform policy and promote innovation within the superannuation system, which is shaping up to have a key influence on the economy and the lives of most Australians,” she said.

The four universities have already begun work and the first outcomes are expected by the end of this year.

Join the discussion