“Welcome to the Ideas Boom,” said Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when launching the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) in December 2015. With advances in technology transforming just about every part of our lives, from the way we work to the way we communicate and access services, NISA positions innovation and science as the key to new sources of growth, high-wage jobs and economic prosperity.
The NISA package is designed around four pillars:
1. Culture and capital
The Government will provide new tax breaks to encourage businesses to take risks and innovate, and will support greater private sector investment by co-investing to commercialise promising ideas through a CSIRO Innovation Fund and a Biomedical Translation Fund.
Australia’s rate of collaboration between research and industry sectors is the lowest in the OECD. To reverse this trend, more university funding will be allocated to research that is done in partnership with industry. Funds will also be allocated to research infrastructure to ensure that Australian researchers have access to the infrastructure they need.
3. Talent and skills
Too few Australian students are studying science, maths and computing in schools – skills that are critical to prepare students for the jobs of the future. Coding and computing will now be promoted in schools and a range of inspirational programs to promote science in the community will be delivered. The visa system will also be changed to attract more entrepreneurial and research talent from overseas.
4. Government as an exemplar
The Government will seek to become more innovative in how it delivers services. Innovation and science will be placed at the centre of the Government with a new sub-committee of Cabinet. Innovation and Science Australia has also been established as an independent advisory board.
In terms of inspiring greater STEM literacy amongst Australians, NISA will invest $48 million in:
- Encouraging school students to participate and achieve in science and maths by supporting participation in international competitions and by introducing youth prizes in the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science
- Delivering programs that particularly encourage women and girls to pursue careers in STEM
- Engaging pre-schoolers with fun experiments, inquiry and play-based learning apps focussed on STEM concepts and
- Supporting more science programs to be delivered in the community to inspire STEM curiosity and knowledge in young people.
For information about the full NISA package and to keep up to date with the latest news, visit www.innovation.gov.au