This excellent report distils lessons that Australia can learn from our global competitors on national performance in innovation. Chief among them is the reality that comprehensive national innovation policy and strong investments can play decisive roles in lifting economic prosperity.
“We are on the cusp of a golden moment for innovation in Australia,” said Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson. “We need to harness the current enthusiasm and work together on our shared goal of greater innovation-driven prosperity for Australia.
“Translating research for economic and social benefit: country comparisons analyses the programs and approaches that have worked overseas to lift national performance in innovation – and looks at why they have been so effective.
“It reinforces a point that Universities Australia has also been making for some time now – we need a comprehensive national plan rather than piecemeal initiatives if we are to clear the current roadblocks in the innovation pathway.
“And it confirms that targeted investment is critical to bridge the gap between a research breakthrough and a new product or process. As ACOLA notes, Australia’s overwhelming reliance on the indirect R&D tax incentive is out of step with the rest of the world.”
In 2014, Australia’s direct government investment in research and development was near the bottom of the pack – fifth lowest – of the OECD countries.
“There is a clear opportunity now with the upcoming Innovation and Science Agenda to move away from the short-term and small-scale approach of Australia’s investment in the past,” she said.
Australia’s universities are committed to working with the government and industry to improve the translation of research into economic and social benefits. Universities across Australia have strong links with their local communities, helping businesses to thrive and innovate. Rural universities are working with farmers to improve agricultural productivity and regional and metro universities are working with local businesses to create new industries as traditional ones decline.
The range and breadth of collaboration and entrepreneurship activities in Australia’s universities is growing, but there is always more that can be done.
Universities Australia congratulates Australia’s outgoing and tireless Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC, for his vision in commissioning the Securing Australia’s Future projects, of which this report is the ninth. These projects have shaped policies that are crucial to Australia’s prosperity.