The Australian Ministry for Industry, Innovation and Science has announced the government’s plans for continued roll-out of its National Innovation and Science agenda, which includes focusing on embracing new ideas in innovation and science, harnessing new sources of growth and encouraging investment from the private sector.
The National Innovation and Science Agenda, which is in the second and third stage of implementation aims to deliver the next age of economic prosperity in Australia. The plans will drive smart ideas that create business growth, local jobs and global success.
Australian Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the Nation forum in Canberra, said,
Our global rankings in competitiveness and innovation have been flat or falling. This is concerning as innovation is central to productivity growth. In this global setting of low growth, Australia needs new strategies to strengthen performance, like higher levels of innovation to boost productivity, in addition to traditional weapons like sound regulatory and institutional settings that support a robust Australian economy.
The National Innovation and Science Agenda focuses on four key principles: building the science culture and capital; strengthening collaboration; encouraging science and innovation talent; and Government leading as an exemplar.
Culture and Capital – According to statistics, only 9% of Australian small to medium sized businesses brought a new idea to market in 2012-13, compared to the 19% in the top five OECD countries. The Agenda will have investors’ back new ideas at an early stage, providing new tax breaks to remove the bias against businesses that take risks and innovate. Further, the Agenda will support greater private sector investment by co-investing in order to commercialize promising ideas through a CSIRO Innovation Fund and a Biomedical Translation Fund.
Collaborate – Government will change funding incentives so that more university funding is allocated to research that is done in partnership with industry; and invest in long-term, critical, world-leading research infrastructure to ensure that researchers have access to the infrastructure they need.
Talent and skills – The agenda will support all Australian students to embrace the digital age, and change the visa system to attract more innovative investment, entrepreneurial and research talent from overseas.
Government as an exemplar – With the agenda, government wishes to lead by example by making data available to the public and making it easier for startups and innovative small businesses to do business and to sell technology services to the government.
Together these pillars will provide a framework for Australian innovation policy. The initiatives are worth $1.1 billion over four years. In the first stage of implementation, the government has amended the tax system to encourage investors to direct their funds towards high-growth, innovative startups, and conducted a review into the research and development (R&D) tax incentive. The government also kicked off its plan to boost women’s participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The second stage of the innovation agenda will focus on encouraging private sector investment in new technologies with the government’s innovation fund to also move into a debt or an equity matching model rather than outright grants. The third stage, expected to run over the next three years, will see a reduction in red tape, targeting unnecessary duplication across federal, state and local government levels. The government will also be helping industry sectors move into the future, which will be guided in part by the national 2030 plan for innovation, science and research.
In conclusion, Greg added,
While the National Innovation and Science Agenda is our industry, innovation and science is one important step in our transition towards our vision for Australia’s future.