Innovation boom needs more fuel 

The Warren Centre welcomed the $1b investment in the Prime Minister’s Innovation Statement yesterday, but cautioned more is required to secure our place in the knowledge economy.

“The Warren Centre has long advocated for a complete innovation strategy, most recently in our Vision for a Nation paper and, while it is pleasing to see the significant number of our recommendations captured in the Innovation Statement, it doesn’t go far enough,” said Mr Ashley Brinson, Warren Centre Executive Director.

The statement is the first real step in combining previously fragmented parts of the innovation supply chain. Early chain activities, such as stable funding for research, linked with later stage start up activities, such as tax and investment concessions, are useful. However, these will only show value if data on intellectual property (IP) capture and conversion are part of research funding mechanisms. Underpinning this with technology, STEM education and encouraging greater participation from females, will give Australia’s future responsiveness a much needed boost.

“While this is a step forward, it is vital that Innovation and Science Australia has the long term funding and mandate to benchmark and respond to each of these factors,” said Mr Brinson, “and unfortunately there are some critical elements that are lacking.”

There is no funding in the package to create and capture intellectual property. Australia lags the world in IP creation and has lost considerable ground compared to the US, Japan, China and Germany with a 7% decline in patent applications in the period from 2002 to 2011.

Mr Brinson said that cyber security is an immediate threat to business opportunities in Asia, but funding a security research growth centre is insufficient to address Australia’s naivety on this issue. The announcement today that the Commonwealth Bank is providing $1.6m in partnership with UNSW to provide free on-line courses to build cyber security skills demonstrates just how desperate the skills shortage is.

“It is smart to acknowledge winners with elements like the biomedical translation fund and investments in quantum computing, but without a clear, funded and secure strategy to accelerate business in Asia, along with the necessary IP management, Australia will fail to retain value from these investments.”

“Without the IP and technology protection strategies to close the loop on innovation opportunities, it’s like taking all of our bait and throwing it into the ocean without a hook and line to reel in the catch.”

Download the full press release (PDF, 456kB)

Download our Vision For a Nation paper (PDF, 4.7MB)

Download our submission to the Senate’s 2014 Innovation Inquiry (PDF, 680kB)

View more publications from The Warren Centre

Contact Details
Ashley Brinson, Executive Director, The Warren Centre
Mobile: +61 (0) 499 688 686
Email: ashley.brinson@sydney.edu.au