Innovation and Science Australia has released its ambitious plan to boost innovation in Australia over the next 12 years. The plan entitled Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation proposes 30 recommendations including a series of audacious ‘National Missions’ to strengthen Australia’s innovation culture.
The 2030 Plan is founded on the urgent need for an acceleration in the development and commercialisation of Australian ideas and inventiveness. Top priorities include rebooting the education and VET training systems, increasing digital skills and making government a catalyst for innovation through its procurement budget and data holdings.
The 2030 Plan says that while technology, science and innovation are creating incredible new economic and social opportunities for Australia, other countries are leveraging digital technologies to build global-scale activities faster than we are.
The 2030 Plan’s recommendations to the Australian Government are actionable within a set of core policy imperatives: education, industry, Government, research and development, all underpinned by culture and ambition.
Of the five imperatives set out to guide the Australian innovation, science and research system, culture and ambition proposes a bold means of inspiring the whole community to get behind the country’s best talent and innovative knowledge through National Missions. These would show how Australia’s innovation, science and research system can solve some of the biggest global challenges of the coming decades.
National Missions would aim to tackle wicked global problems and inspire pride in Australian achievement, setting the bar high for ambition and global influence.
For example, a proposed National Mission to integrate genomics and precision medicine capabilities into the Australian health system would eventually be of benefit to people worldwide. The 2030 Plan also suggests a National Mission to address coral bleaching challenges faced by the Great Barrier Reef.
“This Mission would pursue innovative adaptation and reef restoration technologies in order to optimise the chances for survival of the reef beyond 2030,” Innovation and Science Australia’s Chair Mr Bill Ferris said.
Among recommendations in the 2030 Plan are:
- Higher entry standards for teacher education courses, in particular for STEM teaching
- Improved transparency and accountability across the system including raising the national minimum standards in National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).
- A review and expanision of the Vocation Education and Training (VET) system
- Boost business expenditure on R&D by improving government support
- Enhance efforts to help firms access export markets via Export Market Development Grants
- Prioritise investment in artificial intelligence and machine learning in the medium- to long-term as outlined by the forthcoming Digital Economy Strategy
- Create a more flexible regulatory environment that fosters innovation
- Improve provision and use of open government data
- Boost industry higher degree research placement programs
- Increase commercialisation capability in research organisations by establishing a new stream of funding for translational activities.
Among interventions to improve STEM education outcomes are teacher development and the provision of 21st century skills training – for example hypothesis-driven problem solving, systematic enquiry and logical thinking, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Other recommended measures seek to make it easier for researchers to move between academia and industry.
Further tax breaks are recommended as a means of stimulating higher levels of R&D expenditure and exports by the business sector, which the 2030 Plan says lags behind that seen in the business sector of competitor nations.
“For industry, our vision is by 2030 Australia will have many more examples of high-growth firms exporting innovative goods and services to markets around the world,” Mr Ferris said.
Increasing Australians’ digital skills is identified as a national priority with 92% of future jobs estimated to require advanced knowledge of digital applications like machine learning and data analytics.
McKinsey and Company have calculated that digitalisation could contribute between $140 billion and $250 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2025 the 2030 Plan says. But it warns Australia is falling behind with fewer STEM-qualified graduates than leading nations, lower results in school STEM subjects, fewer patents and considerably less spent than top performing countries on business research and development.
Innovation and Science Australia’s Deputy Chair and Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO, emphasised the importance of education and research in the 2030 Plan.
“We need a relentless focus on raising the bar across the entire education system, combined with investment in our national research assets, to profit from the global knowledge economy,” Dr Finkel said.
Read the 2030 Plan