Dr David Byrne, Professor Simon Loertscher and Mr Gary Stoneham

Dr David Byrne, Professor Simon Loertscher and Mr Gary Steneham, three directors of the Centre for Market Design (CMD), utilise their research to influence policy innovation for the benefit of the community. The CMD’s research engages a range of industry and government sectors from the fuel marketplace to the government’s National Disability Insurance Agency, ensuring that the public are a top priority throughout these discussions.

Dr Byrne, Professor Loertscher and Mr Stoneham, three directors of the CMD, an innovative and unique research centre located on campus, have been awarded the Award for Excellence in Engagement – Research 2017. Nestled in the Department of Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics at the University, the CMD’s mission is to produce “leading, innovative economic research which focuses on delivering value to the community”. This mission sharpens the focus of research conducted by the CMD to ensure that it is relevant and has valuable outcomes for society.

Since its inception in 2012, the CMD has communicated evidence-based knowledge to policy-makers in government and industry by applying economic design techniques to public policy through workshops and masterclasses. An example of this work is the system developed by the CMD for South East Water, wherein a new SMS approach aims to prevent bill shock, particularly in disadvantaged households. CMD engaged with South East Water to determine the benefit of using digital technologies to promote water conservation and bill savings through real time feedback. Dr Byrne explains that the CMD’s initial engagement with South East Water has led to their continued investment in “econometric behavioural trials to test new ideas”. For Dr Byrne and his colleagues, this focus on public engagement benefits the CMD through “access to experts and industry insight” which allows the team to derive new ways to improve policy.

The key is making markets thicker and more competitive. Ultimately this increases choice for Australians and decreases their tax burden. Dr David Byrne

The award has encouraged the conception of two new, highly innovative engagement programs generating collaborations between the CMD and academic affiliates, agencies and policymakers in State and Commonwealth Governments. The programs will allow the CMD to offer their unique and specified knowledge in mechanism design, auction theory, matching markets, experimental economics, and structural econometrics to these partners. Dr Byrne describes one initiative, the Residence program, which will see a CMD “academic economist work within a government department or agency in a collaborative capacity”, raising awareness of the CMD’s capabilities and how “this expertise may be applied more effectively within policy making environments”.