The Office of Innovation and Science Australia has been established to support the Innovation and Science Australia board announced in 2016. Led by entrepreneur Bill Ferris AC, the board has been tasked with several long-term initiatives to boost innovation and science including conducting a performance review of Australia’s innovation, science and research system and developing a 2030 strategic plan.
With members comprising global entrepreneurs and international representatives, it is anticipated that the Innovation and Science Australia board will advise the Australian Government on how to boost innovation investment, improve collaboration and skills, strengthen research infrastructure and make better use of Australia’s investment in research and development.
Dr Charlie Day, the CEO of Innovation and Science Australia (ISA), addressed an Inspiring Australia briefing in Sydney on 5 April 2017. First, he gave examples of some of Australia’s most successful startup businesses, including those that address science and technology issues, to show how research can be commercialised as business strategies are applied to knowledge. Three case studies were presented:
- Anatomics is a medical technology company that has been manufacturing high-quality medical devices, prosthetics and software solutions since 1996. The company is now developing and delivering unique software portals to innovate community-based personalised healthcare. www.anatomics.com
- Orbital Engine Corporation builds smart technology that delivers improved performance outcomes for global clients in the mining & industrial, aerospace and accelerator sectors. Headquartered in Perth, the company produces all kinds of high tech supplies including engine and propulsion systems for unmanned aerial vehicles. www.orbitalcorp.com.au
- Carbon Revolution delivers advanced materials R&D and vehicle engineering within world-leading technology organisations. The company emerged from an independent R&D program providing technology mentoring to university teams involved in Formula SAE campaigns. The first composite wheels developed by the founders appeared in 2004 on SAE vehicles competing in this global competition. www.carbonrev.com
Dr Day then went on to update stakeholders on the results of ISA performance review released in February 2017. The review found that Australia has many strengths in the area of knowledge creation, including funding for R&D activities, world-class research infrastructure, a strong research workforce and good levels of collaboration among researchers. However, despite its internationally competitive university system, the review noted that no Australian university is ranked in the global top 20.
When it comes to knowledge transfer, the review identified room for improvement in many areas including STEM education, collaboration between researchers and businesses and vocational education and training as a means of building skills for innovation. Similarly, knowledge application was found to be wanting in the areas of Government procurement, business expenditure on R&D, and effective strategies to address skills gaps, particularly in the area of ICT.
Dr Day finished with a summary of how ISA’s 2030 Strategic Plan will be developed through the prism of six challenges:
- Moving more firms, in more sectors, closer to the innovation frontier
- Moving, and keeping, Government closer to the innovative frontier
- Delivering high-quality and relevant education and skills development for Australians throughout their lives
- Maximising the engagement of our world class research system with end users
- Maximising advantage from international knowledge, talent and capital
- Bold, high-impact initiatives.
Dr Day invited stakeholders to respond to the six challenges and suggest further themes and questions for discussion. A consultation on ISA’s 2030 Strategic Plan Issues Paper is currently underway and all were encouraged to contribute to its development.
For more information about Innovation and Science Australia visit the website.