Building Bridges: from Ivory Towers to Innovation Success

Addressing complacency in innovation – Part Four

Australia can build a productive, sustainable economy through innovation but we are lagging behind. We need to improve our competency and capacity to innovate.

I was inspired by some great insights by PwC in their recent report on‘Expanding Australia’s Economy’.They talk about how countries build productive and sustainable economies through innovation. Compared with other countries, Australia is lagging behind and desperately needs to rebalance physical and knowledge based assets. That will require rapid transition to a knowledge-based economy. Our economy has traditionally been based around physical industries such as manufacturing, construction, mining and agriculture.

“We will need to invest significantly in industries such as technology, biotech and health as well as grow science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM), which is currently in decline.”

Government, Enterprise and Academia need to work collaboratively on focused initiatives and policies in the three particular areas of venture capital, R&D and education.

The good news is we have one of the highest proportions of researchers in higher education, but the lowest in enterprises and industry.

“Leading innovative OECD countries have three times more research and development personnel in industry than Australia. Sweden, Singapore and Canada have significant innovation strategies which are driving their growth.”

The report includes four fundamental factors for how to build a successful digital enterprise:

  1. Drive digital innovation through your leadership by embeddingdigital across the breadth and depth of the organisation, not just within it.Develop an entrepreneurial culture and remove fear of failure. Dynamically allocate risk capital to innovation initiatives as opportunities arise.
  2. Adopt an outside in approach to innovation including arapid test and learn approach in your innovation systemEmpower employees to focus on new ideas and create new relationships to foster collaboration across industries and geography
  3. Use digital intelligence to drive everything anduse data to understand customer sentiment, intent and actions.Develop an intelligence platform that allows you to listen to more than social media.
  4. Build customer centred digital solutions anddesign from the customer viewpoint.Embrace digital first interactions and deploy agile development solutions. 

It also offers four fundamental factors for Government 

  1. Be the creator of innovation opportunities and open up Government data sets to drive innovation in the broader market. Support innovation forums to develop solutions for important Government issues and adopt a leaner procurement processes to provide greater access for SME’s.
  2. Incentivise innovation by introducing more attractive tax frameworks for both local and foreign companies to perform R&D. Develop specific rules to cater for the unique challenges faced by start-ups and incentivise researchers to commercialise intellectual property.
  3. Ensure our skill base through increasing national STEM capability by stimulating demand from secondary school level. Identify and incentivise major local sector champions and fund applied education programs in the short term.
  4. Digital and citizen come first through user-friendly systems, transactions, communication channel choices and consolidated and digitised personal information. 

There are lots of talented innovators and entrepreneurs in Australia. However, our inability to commercialise innovation and the small number of researchers working in business enterprises as compared to higher education means many opportunities have been missed.

“We must urgently focus on STEM education and bring our brilliant academics out of their ivory towers into enterprise and industry so that we can unleash Australia’s full potential as an innovative nation.”

The full PwC report is available here

If you want learn more about collaboration, developing a culture of innovation, being positively disruptive and building sustainable growth then register your tickets for Ci2015 – where you will hear from over 40 Global leaders and disruptors inspiring change globally.

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10 scholarships for emerging innovators. Applications closing November 16. 

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