Returns to ACIAR investment have been shown by independent studies to be substantial.

ACIAR has a long history of formally and independently assessing the impact of the research it funds.

ACIAR has also commissioned several reviews of these studies to assess their credibility and placed all returns in the same terms (Raitzer and Lindner 2005; Pearce et al 2006; ACIAR 2006). Since the earlier reviews, a significant number of further assessment studies have been undertaken. A systematic analysis of the results of the 48 impact assessments covering 130 projects impact assessments was undertaken in 2010-11.

The total investment in these 130 projects (expressed as a ‘present value’ in common 2010 dollars) was $379 million — $189 million of this funded by ACIAR.  The total benefit from this investment (again expressed on a common basis) was estimated to be $31.9 billion — $15.9 billion of this directly attributed to ACIAR funding. This implies a benefit-cost ratio of around 84:1. That is, every dollar spent on this research has delivered $84 in return.

The $15.9 billion of benefits attributed to ACIAR funding more than covers ACIAR’s total expenditure, since its inception, of $2.64 billion (again expressed in present value terms). An overall benefit-cost ratio for ACIAR based on the projects assessed (that is, under the extreme assumption that projects not yet assessed have benefits of zero) is 6.03 to 1.