Is Innovation Simply a Matter of Mind?

October 15th, 2015

Last week it was reported that Mr Turnbull ordered Mr Pyne, the Science and Innovation Minister, to release his “inner revolutionary” in order to come up with stronger policies to catapult innovation and to let the Prime Minister worry about the money. However, is creating an innovation economy simply about policies and government funding?

Certainty, government funding and incentives can drive individuals to be more willing to conduct research and partake in innovation expenditure. However, is creating an innovated economy based solely on this? Many believe that Australia must have a culture that inspires innovators and entrepreneurs, instead of focusing purely on policies. Currently Australia is ranked in the 20’s among the nations on range of factors crucial to the capacity to innovate, according to the World Economic Forum. Furthermore, the OECD reveals that 52 per cent of an Australian industry survey sample rated being an entrepreneur as a good career, compared to 65 per cent in the United States. Mr Pyne believes the issue is changing the cultural shift from believing that a researcher’s job is completed once the research is finished. Instead, there needs to be a change in focus and emphasis that the research is the first part of the job and the second part is commercialising the research.

In light of this, the Turnbull government is observing Britain and other countries, such as Singapore, who have made greater developments in business. For instance, only 4 percent of our researchers in public institutions are involved in business. In Britain that figure is 40 percent, revealing a large gap in potential. Today Prime Minister Turnbull announced that he has requested university and agency chiefs to a meeting on Friday, which is directed at discovering methods to make the industry more collaborative and innovative. There is less burden on “picking winners” and more on pushing researchers to see if they can turn their ideas into businesses.

Does all Australia need is a paradigm shift in the way we think and act about innovation to increase this percentage of public institution researchers involved in business? Either way, universities are an important agenda to consider. They provide a robust research sector which reinforces future industries; they are the training ground for the next generation of the country’s leaders and the workforce that will accelerate the economy. Furthermore, Deloitte put international education in its projected five most noteworthy drivers of the next wave of Australia’s growth and prosperity, with the others being agribusiness, natural gas, wealth management, and tourism.Swanson Reed - Specialist R&D Tax Advisors